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Copyright, 1918 
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Approved for pyblication, on behalf of the Department 
of Romance Languages and Literatures of Columbia 

Henry Alfred Todd 

New York, December, 1917. 


This dissertation, especially in the last three chapters 
departs somewhat, I am aware, from the type of those 
so far presented in this series. I trust that that is not, 
however, a cause for condemnation. 

I take this opportunity to acknowledge indebtedness 
for inspiration to the works of Nyrop, Darmesteter, and 
Dauzat as duly hsted in the bibliography, and I offer 
this study as a tribute to those eminent masters, with- 
out, however, attempting thereby to place any respon- 
sibiUty for its faults upon them, but with the sole 
intention of doing them honor as far as its humble 
merits may. 

I have also been much assisted in the later chapters by 
T. Ranft's Der Einfluss der franzosischen Revolution auf 
den wortschatz der franzosischen sprache, which I have 
found a most valuable compilation of facts serving as a 
point of departure for many of the deductions which I 
have drawn. 

I owe to Professor H. A. Todd of Columbia University 
a much greater debt than I have opportunity here to do 
more than suggest, for his sympathetic and encouraging 
cooperation throughout the whole period of preparation 
of this work, from the very earhest moment of its incep- 
tion through the final stages of the printing. Needless 
to say that without his constant help it would not have 
attained completion. 

It is a pleasure also to mention the many lessons in 
the art of real scholarship which I have been fortunate 
in having the opportunity to gain from contact with 


Professor Adolphe Cohn and likewise from Professor 
L. A. Loiseaux and from Professors Raymond Weeks 
and J. L. Gerig. From Mr. P. M. Hayden I have re- 
ceived many valuable hints, and I am glad to make here 
acknowledgement to a former teacher, Miss Mary Sawyer, 
who many years ago awakened in me an interest of 
which this book is the eventual outcome. Finally, my 
wife has given me continual aid as valuable as it is im- 
possible to mention in detail. 


Chapter Page 

Introduction xi 

I. The Terminology of the Railroad 1 

II. The Word-element "Auto-" 35 

III. The Word-element "Aero-" 64 

IV. Nomenclature op the Republican Calendar . . 96 

V. The Metric Terminology 120 

VI. Terminology for the Idea of Equality 137 

VII. Terminology for the Idea of Liberty 163 

VIII. Terminology for the Idea of Democracy .... 202 

Conclusion 231 

Bibliography 243 


"La langue moderne renouvelle-t-elle son vocabulaire et par 
quels Quelle puissance possede-t-elle pour exprimer les 
idees nouvelles, les f aits nouveaux ? La force creatrice qui a produit 
le vocabulaire de la vieille langue et de la langue moderne est-elle 
toujours active, et dans quelle mesure?" 

Darmesteter, La Creation actuelle de mots nouveaux, p. 7. 

"Les objets nouveaux et les id6es nouvelles doivent n^cessaire- 
ment se faire leurs noms. Nul mot existant dans la langue ancienne 
ne pouvait exprimer ce qu'expriment mitrailleuse, porte-monnaie; 
velocipede, photographic, telegraphe; square, tunnel; reactionnaire, 
socialisme, nihiliste; budget y — Idem., p. 29. 


It is of course evident to any observer, however casual, 
that the French language, that any language, is con- 
stantly growing. If we reflect at aU on the matter, we 
reahze how inadequate for modern use would be, for 
example, the vocabulary of the Chanson de Roland. If 
Charlemagne, if even Frangois I, were to come back to 
life, he would need to take a pretty thorough course in 
modern French before he could linderstand an ordinary 
newspaper article. Even the vocabulary of Victor Hugo, 
large as it is and close to us in time, is totally unequipped 
for a discussion of the automobile or the aeroplane or 
many other things we can easily think of. A most com- 
monplace word, the mere numeral soixante-quinze would 
hardly signify to the great poet what it does to Mar- 
shal Joffre. The French of Danton and Robespierre 
was almost a diJfferent language from that spoken by 
Louis XVI, who was nevertheless contemporary with 
them. In short, the moment we think of the question 
at all we see that the French language, Hke all languages, 
is undergoing ceaseless adaptation in order to make it 
suitable to express new ideas, new shades of meaning, 
new points of view, and to render it adequate for use in 
discussing the constantly arising new inventions and 
improvements that mark the continuous development of 

Students of philology, who study the language of past 
centuries, of course see vividly emphasized the striking 
development which the language has undergone in the 
space of hundreds of years. They see the language as 



it was then and they know it as it is now. They can 
see the whole panorama of its development covering 
long periods of time. They can point, for example, to 
that period when the vocabulary was being adapted to 
the expression of a new and subtle form of philosophic 
reasoning. They can put their finger on the century when 
the language was being suited to express the more exact 
comprehension of science that at a certain time began to 
delight the keener minds. 

However, the exact processes by which these ceaseless 
alterations of the language came about in long-past times 
are, for the most part, no longer discoverable. The de- 
tails of the process whereby the speakers of folk-Latin 
ceased, for example, to refer to their head by the word 
caput and came in one region to speak of it as their 
'tile' {tete testa), and in another region called it caheza 
(capitia), — these details are buried in the ruins of the 
Roman empire. The dust of centuries conceals the 
steps by which the word table gradually became current 
in the usage of the Gallic speakers of folk-Latin to name 
the object which their Spanish contemporaries con- 
tinued from Latin times to call mesa (mensa). The 
details of these early developments no scholar can now 
rescue from obUvion. 

But what about details of this sort when their story 
is not an ancient one? It is fortunate that occasionally 
scholars can give us exact dates for words. We are told, 
for example, that the word dbsinthisme dates from 1860,^ 
feministe from 1872. But under these bare announce- 
ments significant details lie hidden. The mere statement 
of the fact is not ''all there is to it." Innovations which 
take place even under our very eyes often elude the most 
careful investigation. They have a way of concealing 
the mysteries of their birth from the prying eye of the 
1 Nyrop, III, p. 8. 


et5niiologist. If no man knows 'Hhe time when the wild 
goats of the rock bring forth or can mark when the hinds 
do calve/' if the most patient naturahsts have been con- 
tinually unable to discover the precise details of the 
mating of certain scorpions, no less baffled are the stu- 
dents of linguistics Ukely to be when they attempt to 
trace to a satisfactory source such words as hoche and 
camouflage. • Archbishop Trench notes this difficulty 
when he says : ^ " One of the most striking facts about new 
words, and a very signal testimony of their birth from 
the bosom of the people (that is, where they are not 
plainly from the schools) is the difficulty which is often 
found in tracing their pedigree. . . . Even when it has 
been sought to investigate their origin almost as soon as 
they have come into existence their rise is mysterious; 
Uke so many other acts of becoming, it is veiled in deep- 
est obscurity. They appear, they are in everybody's 
mouth; but yet when it is inquired from whence they 
are, nobody can tell. They are but of yesterday, and 
yet, with a marvelous rapidity they have already for- 
gotten the circumstances of their origin." And a little 
later: ''This difficulty, this impossibihty oftentimes, of 
tracing the genealogy even of words of very recent for- 
mation is an evidence of their birth from the heart and 
Ups of the people." 

And yet there are certain aspects of the constant ex- 
pansion and readjustment of language which are not 
hid from us either by the mists of antiquity or by the 
elusiveness of the manner of their birth. Language does 
not always function in obscurity. On the contrary, in 
fact, terminologies are chosen at times with the most 
conspicuous self -consciousness. When some new object, 
Uke the automobile or the aeroplane, is at length brought 
to a state of perfection that takes it out of the realm of 
^ Study of Words, Chap. IV. Ed. Redfield, N. Y., 1859. 


experiment and so forces it upon the attention of the 
community that the general discussion of it becomes a 
necessity, then a whole congeries of new words must be 
found or created for the purpose. Then it is that the 
language grows in a way that we can clearly watch. 
This is a moment when the growth is open and not 
elusive — every one realizes that a case of need has 
arisen and people very generally busy themselves to 
supply the need. Writers in newspapers, magazines, 
books, and pamphlets are preoccupied with the problem 
of supplying a terminology which shall be adequate and 
convenient, usable in every respect; and the processes 
of suggestion and selection are then apphed with the 
utmost pubUcity. Then we are able to observe all the 
minute details of ^'terminology in the making." 

If we can observe the language at such pieriods of 
sudden growth in its vocabulary, if we can watch the 
formation of such new terminologies as that for the auto- 
mobile, the aeroplane, or, to go further back, the rail- 
road, we shall see before our very eyes the process, or 
at least some examples of one of the various processes 
whereby language is adapted to new needs and applied 
to new uses. And that, as applied to modern French, 
is the subject of our study. 

We can all easily recall the time when it would have 
been impossible to say, ''The automobile skidded' ' or "had 
trouble in its carburetor '^ or "The windshield was broken." 
We can easily remember the time when these words 
simply did not exist. But now they do exist and are a 
definite addition to the vocabulary — an addition that 
has been made under our own eyes. When we begin 
to think of such words we reahze that they are only a 
few out of a large set connected with the automobile, 
which we may call the "terminology" of the automobile. 
Some of these are totally new creations, others are adap- 


tations of old words to new uses. The entire group of 
them is very large. In other fields we find the same 
thing. In the case of aviation the group is so large that 
there are even good-sized dictionaries devoted solely to 
that special terminology. Leaving aside technical words 
in these terminologies there still remains a considera- 
ble number that are really an addition to the language 
that is used by the ordinary nontechnical person. This 
residue constitutes an important development of the 

What can we gain from studying such congeries of 
words? Are they mere sporadic instances? Are such 
words nothing but sports, void of any testimony on the 
large and fundamental questions of language growth, 
without significance as examples of the working of hn- 
guistic laws? Evidently not. If we can follow the 
growth, e.g., of the railroad terms from the year 1825, 
when the words began to appear, till 1835, when the 
whole terminology was pretty definitely settled, we shall 
be witnessing, in a form of accelerated development, some 
of the same processes which in earher periods have nor- 
mally been spread over decades and even centuries. 

For the complete process of selection and application 
of the designation for a 'table' or a 'house' was required 
we know not how many years, nor can we now discern 
what tentative choices and rejections of terms were neces- 
sary. To reconstruct the details of the process by which 
the word tete was selected as the name for the thing it 
designates has long been beyond all possibiHty. It is 
not so, however, with the vocabulary of the automobile 
or of aviation. The selective evolution of these terms, 
it so happens, we can observe in the minutest detail. 
Is the process in these cases essentially different in funda- 
mental principles from the earher ones? May we not 
believe the method of procedure the same? For a seed 


to sprout and grow into a plant, for the plant to bloom 
and produce another seed, is a process which it requires 
months of narrow observation to trace. But by means 
of the acceleration of the motion-picture camera this 
prolonged process can be witnessed in all the minuteness 
of detail in the space of a few moments. An advantage 
somewhat similar to this we have in the matter of the 
growth of the vocabulary when we are fortunate enough 
to catch the language, under pressure of a sudden neces- 
sity, evolving a new set of terms within the period of 
twenty years between 1820, when a locomotive was first 
constructed, and 1840, when to refer to the locomotive 
and all the complicated subsequent developments from 
it had become an everyday need. In such a situation we 
see before us the linguistic processes in very active opera- 
tion. We find them concentrated, under a more or less 
artificial compulsion, into limits very conveniently nar- 
row. It remains, of course, to decide to what degree, 
if any, concentration renders the operation of these 
processes artificial and unnatural. But in any case we 
find offered to us many interesting phenomena. 

The problem before us, then, is to make observations 
on the language at periods of sudden growth in the 
vocabulary. We shall try to see what it is that men do, 

— men preferably not professional linguistic scholars and 
philologists, but plain workaday people using speech as 
a commonplace tool and for purely utiUtarian purposes, 

— when they suddenly find themselves compelled to 
talk to-day about a thing which yesterday had no name.^ 
We shall investigate whether, in such circumstances, they 

' Peter Giles in the Encyclopedia Britannica, article Indo-Euro- 
pean Languages, says: "New words are to a large extent, even in 
modern times, the invention of persons unskilled in the history of 
language." One would almost be inclined to change his "even in 
modern times" to "particularly in modern times." 


create new and wholly artificial terms; and if so, whence 
do they get the elements out of which they make them? 
What are the influences that direct their attention to 
certain roots and word-stems rather than to others ? 
What laws or what precedents do they follow? Or do 
they, perhaps, content themselves with words already ex- 
isting, and constrain these to assume new functions and 
cover new fields? In this case what are the reasons 
for their particular choice, what are the considerations 
that predispose them to select particular terms and des- 
ignations ? 

And the words thus created or transferred, what are 
their vicissitudes, their early struggles for existence 
when there happen to be several candidates for the same 
vacancy? Has the finally successful candidate always 
been a leader from the start? In Enghsh terminology 
we are mindful that automobiles were often at first 
called horseless carriages and that in the early days if an 
opinion were to have been hazarded as to what the name 
of the new vehicle was going to be, horseless carriage 
rather than automobile would doubtless have been the 
guess. Are similar false starts frequent elsewhere ? Was 
the railroad from the very beginning and without hesi- 
tation called chemin de fer in French, or were there for 
this and for the aeroplane other names that were tried 
and discarded? And are the words that are finally suc- 
cessful really superior to the others that have been 
dropped? If so, in what does their superiority consist? 
We shall try to discover and to point out the unsuccess- 
ful aspirants for these hastily filled positions, and to de- 
termine the causes for the summary rejection of some 
proposed terms and the ofttimes apparently capricious 
acceptance of others. When a word is transferred to a 
new use we shall investigate its previous condition and 
see what there was about it that made the word suitable 


for the new use, what objections to it there were and 
what difficulties in the way of its adaptation. Was it 
natural that this word should be adopted or does it seem 
that violence was done by the transfer? If it seems an 
unnatural change, what induced people to put up with 
it? If, by way of compromise, the field is finally shared 
by two terms, what are the adjustments by which the 
division is made and the labor apportioned? 

We are now ready to inquire. What are the most favor- 
able conditions for the study of new terminologies? 
And the answer is, The period of development of some 
important invention — not the gradual improvement of 
something already known but a definitely new and indi- 
vidual departure. Then almost certainly a novel desig- 
nation will be called for. However, the invention must 
not be one that only speciaHsts in some hmited field will 
need to discuss. The new substances constantly being 
discovered in chemistry, for example, will not interest 
us, for their names never are subjected to the constant 
give-and-take of human intercourse whereby words be- 
come real parts of the living vocabulary. To suit our 
needs the invention must be one that immediately inter- 
ests those who use the everyday speech. Then we can 
hope for abundant examples in the newspapers and maga- 
zines which will enable us to trace the monthly and even 
weekly stages of the process by which it is named. 

For our purpose, then, we have found it profitable to 
choose (1) the railroad, which, roughly speaking, was 
from 1820 to 1840 getting names for all its parts; (2) the 
automobile, the name for which became fixed in the 
years from 1875 to about 1895; (3) the science of aero- 
nautics, which was supplied with terms at two different 
periods of activity, 1783-1800 and 1865-1890. These 
three widely appealing terminologies will offer sufficient 
variety for the first stage of our investigations. They 


will make it possible for us to see the creation of termi- 
nologies for material things under the pressure of popular 
demand and immediate necessity. In the case of the 
railroad and the vocabulary of aeronautics we shall con- 
sider the various words that form the terminology, but 
in the matter of the self-moving vehicle we shall find 
enough to occupy us in the study of the one word auto- 

One characteristic that distinguishes such creations > 
however spontaneous they may be, is that of conscious 
volition. Everybody knows that the vocabulary is 
undergoing alterations and extensions. So we shall find 
that although there is great spontaneity involved in the 
rise of such sets of terms, there is also a considerable 
element of conscious and calculated manufacture. But 
we can find cases where we shall be able to investigate in 
even purer form the manner of absolutely artificial and 
conscious creation. There are sets of terms that have 
about them almost no spontaneity at all, that are alto- 
gether intentionally manufactured. 

In the French Republican calendar, for instance, we 
have such a consciously made set of words, and the 
records of the Moniteur universel give us a very good view 
of the methods by which Fabre d' Eglantine and Romme, 
and the others of the committee, went about the task to 
which they had been appointed by the government. 
The objection, however, may be made that this creation 
is without significance because it was unsuccessful, be- 
cause it did not five. But we have also a successful 
terminology made under the same conditions; that is, 
the terminology of the metric system. We shall try to 
see why the one of these failed and the other succeeded. 
And in these two instances we shall find an unexampled 
opportunity to study purely arbitrary and unspontane- 
ous creation of sets of terms, and to compare this sort 


of creation with the shghtly less conscious type studied 
in the first three cases. 

Finally, there is another much more difficult and indefi- 
nite but far more interesting study of this question that 
we can make. Let us approach the problem from another 
angle. Hitherto we have thought of a new thing or idea 
and have watched how it was named. Now let us go 
at it from the opposite side and, finding a profuse incre- 
ment in the vocabulary, let us start with the results, 
namely a mass of words, and see if we can discover what 
there was new for the naming of which all these words 
were required. While our attention is on the period of 
the Revolution, we are struck by the mass of new words 
that appeared at that time. I find that there were nearly 
900 new words or words used in new senses or in new 
combinations; 571, to be exact, that are actually new. 
The perfection of the aeroplane may cause a dictionary- 
ful of words to spring into being, but what is it that 
caused this crop of words to appear? What do they 
designate ? 

Postponing until later a discussion of the details, we 
may state here the conclusion that the words of this vast 
bulk are the complicated nomenclature of the Revolu- 
tionary ideas of equality, Hberty, and democracy. Here, 
then, we can enter upon a much more abstract and 
subtle form of our investigation than the study of the 
automobile or aeroplane nomenclature, or the metric 
terminology. In these other studies we were concerned 
with the question of how the French language has reacted 
in the face of a sudden demand for new sets of terms for 
material objects. Now we are to see what is the result 
when a new idea is demanding a terminology. If it is 
interesting to watch what is done when a new machine 
calls for new names, it will be much more so to observe 
how a new idea causes the language to change. The 


automobile necessitated the production of various nouns 
to name new appliances, chassis, moteur, transmission, 
differ entiel, radiateur, cahurateur, pneumatiques ; and vari- 
ous verbs to designate new actions and movements, 
deraper, carhurer. This demand is one that can be easily 
supphed. But a new idea such as that of social equaUty 
will never be content with so narrow a sphere of influence. 
It is too large to be named by a dozen nouns and as many 
verbs. We shall have to trace its influence in all parts 
of the vocabulary. It will undoubtedly cast its spell over 
scores of words and will mold them with new con^iota- 
tions, fresh suggestions, and strange meanings. Social 
inequality had been for so long a basic fact of French 
civiUzation that many a word had been born and had 
grown into use under its bUght. Like the men and women, 
these words were affected by the environment into which 
they came. Suddenly remove the condition of inequaUty 
and substitute a new one of equahty, and hke the men 
and women these words will show response to the altera- 
tion. As the old regime produced a large class of society 
which was purely ornamental and idle, so it also pro- 
duced many terms for the use of this class. We know 
what the Revolution did with this portion of society. 
What did it do with its words ? As in 1789 a whole new 
class of men came into power, wiU not the new democracy 
cause to arise a similar crowd of new words ? Under the 
influence of the new Uberty men and women abandoned 
themselves to wild and fantastic Ucense of every sort. 
Will they be tempted to exercise this freedom also in the 
realm of the vocabulary ? These are some of the ques- 
tions that we shall investigate and some of the specula- 
tions in which we shall indulge. 

These various terminologies, as has been indicated, 
will be taken up in an order that is not chronological 
but rather a progression from the material to the ab- 


stract and from the simple to the complex. All eight of 
om- studies, however, will show us various phases of the 
same problem, the question of how the French name 
new ideas, whether appUed to self-propulsion as reaHzed 
in the automobile, or the idea of hberty pervading the 
whole body of society. 

With this brief outUne of our plan let us pass to the 
subject proper of our study. 


The Terminology of the Railroad 

About 1830 the railroads, then at their beginning, 
sent out, figuratively speaking, an emergency call for 
a new terminology. With almost impatient insistence 
the rapidly growing invention demanded a vocabulary 
to express all its new-born ideas and to name all its newly 
appUed articles of equipment. Within the space of only 
ten or twelve years the language was adjusted by various 
means to this need, — adjusted with ease, with a certain 
offhand leisureUness, almost with nonchalance. When 
Victor Hugo wrote Hernani, in 1829, there was no rail- 
road vocabulary in the French language. When he 
wrote Les Bur graves, in 1843, a complete new terminol- 
ogy had been developed, had grown familiar, and was in 
use practically as it exists to-day. 

And yet, although it was not longer than twelve years 
that the language was engaged in this task, there was no 
haste. Plenty of time was given at the outset for a 
leisurely sampUng of proposed terms and weighing of 
rival words. Some expressions were accepted on trial, 
only to be rejected later and replaced by more satis- 
factory ones. As early as 1831 a fairly extensive vocabu- 



lary of railroad terms was already available, but it was 
not by any means the terminology that was in use in 
1840 or that is in use to-day. 

To realize something of the difference between this 
early trial terminology and that in current use to-day, 
let us imagine that we are looking at one of the railroad 
scenes that appear in children's primers, and let us pro- 
pose for the page opposite the following legend: 

Voici le chemin a ornieres ou le chemin en fer. Regardez 
la suite de chariots. D'abord nous voyons la machine k 
vapeur locomotive; apres, le chariot d'approvisionnement 
et puis les autres chariots. lis roulent sur les ornieres de 
fer ou les barres. Maintenant ils passent dans la galerie 
souterraine (ou le souterrain). 

To a person of 1831 this would not have seemed un- 
natural. We find in it certain unfamiliar terms which 
have long since disappeared. They are the waste inci- 
dental to the genesis of a new nomenclature. 

To understand the inception and growth of the rail- 
road terminology we must begin by considering the 
growth of the railroads themselves. Here two important 
points claim our attention: first, that the railroads fol- 
lowed and to a large degree supplanted the canals; and 
second, that the railroads developed in France about 
seventeen years later than they did in England. Ac- 
cordingly all the early works on the subject treat of the 
relative advantages of canals and railroads as one of 
the chief considerations. Their general thesis is that 
the new system is cheaper, quicker, and more convenient 
than the canals. There is also much argument as to the 
relative superiority of horses or steam as the motive power. 
As to the second point, the first practical railroad was 
built in England in 1815, and it was not until 1833 that 
one was built in France. Here, then, is a period of 


seventeen years during which French promoters and 
engineers were visiting England to inspect the new sys« 
tern, and were coming home with enthusiastic accounts 
of it. During those years translations, adaptations, 
quotations from English books, were popular in France. 
These two considerations will indicate clearly whence the 
French railroad vocabulary is Ukely to come. We shall 
expect to find words taken from the already estabHshed 
canal terminology, and we shall expect the acceptance 
of names or the equivalent of names already given to 
things by the EngKsh. 

Let us trace the development of the new terms in the 
natural order of their introduction. This order is approxi- 
mately (1) the name for the rails; (2) the word chemin 
de fer ; (3) the word locomotive; (4) terms for tender, 
cars, train, etc.; (5) the word tunnel; (6) the name for 
the station. 

The practical starting point for the whole new system 
was the rails. It was from these that everything else 
took shape. The railroad began by making out of metal 
instead of stone or gravel the ruts or grooves in which 
wagons in colHeries were drawn. These metal ruts or 
grooves were named in England rails. If they were 
flat or sunken they were called plate rails; if they were 
raised they were called edge rails. In French it was not 
unnatural to call the earHest iron ruts or plate rails, as 
Duverne did (1826), ornieres. But when these flat rails 
developed, as they soon did, into raised ones such as 
are in use to-day, the word ornieres no longer seems 
appropriate. It was not, however, discarded. Duverne 
even speaks of ornieres creuses ou saillantes. The expres- 
sion ornieres saillantes seems scarcely logical. It appears 
to be a contradiction in terms. If the English expression 
had been tracks, its continued translation by the word 
ornieres might be more comprehensible. But it was not; 


it was always rails. Why, then, not use some French 
word like harres, handes, or barreaux f ^ 

It would appear that one of the principal ideas sug- 
gested to the mind by the word ornieres would be the 
idea also expressed by the word creux. For the word 
ornieres to have persisted as it did, it must be that the 
other concept suggested by it, that is, the idea of two 
lines equidistant from each other and determining a 
path for a vehicle to follow, was the more prominent, or 
else that this idea was not found so satisfactorily ex- 
pressed by any other word. The Frenchman of that 
period was wilUng, for the sake of the latter suggestion;^ 
to do violence to what must have been a suggestion fully 
as natural, that of the idea of creux. This is not altogether 
impossible to understand. In English the word tracks 
Uke ornieres in French, primarily suggests sunken ruts. 
Yet it is not infrequently used with the distinct sugges- 
tion of the idea of rails. 

The inconsistency in French was not unnoticed. In 
1830 Coste and Perdonnet append to the title of their 
book on the railroads the following rather naive note: 

1 These words were somewhat used, especially at first, but did 
not continue popular. Ferussac's Bulletin universel des sciences et 
de Vindustrie, partie technologique, vol. IV, § 51, reviewing an article 
in the Monthly Magazine of Jan, 1825, p. 486, speaks of "depenses 
comparatives des routes a harrieres dans differens comtes [of Eng- 
land]." Again, vol. IV, §53, apropos of bande, it speaks of "routes 
en fer a handes plates ou a handes saillantes," and says: '*mais les 
ornieres au Heu d'etre formees par des barreaux de fer le sont en 
pierres taillies." Again, vol. IV, § 119, reviewing an article in the 
Monthly Magazine, April, 1825, p. 248, on a "Patente dehvr^e a 
William James, de Londres, pour certains perfectionnemens intro- 
duits dans la construction des chemins a ornieres de fer," it speaks 
twice of the rails as "des coulisses creuses ou ornieres." In 1826 the 
Journal des savants says: "C'est cette meme idee qui a conduit les 
Anglais k etablir leurs rail- ways ou chemins a harres." We also find 
barres used in Gerstner's Memoire, 1827. 


Ce mot d'ornieres entraine ordinairement I'id^e d'un 
creux. Nous entendons, cependant, des especes de guides 
creux ou saillans que suivent les roues de chariots. Cette 
denomination de routes a ornieres est employee par le plus 
grand nombre des personnes qui s'occupent de cette nou- 
velle espece de voies de communication. Nous n'avons pas 
trouve de terme qui nous partit remplacer convenablement 
le nom d'ornieres. 

Perdonnet was, of course, mistaken in his prediction, 
and the English word rails was, as a matter of fact, soon 
to replace ornieres completely. In 1826, however, in 
the review of Duverne's book, there is no suggestion of 
anything but ornieres. In 1826, in Archives des decou- 
vertes et des inventions nouvelles, we read of ''des routes ^ 
ornieres en fer entre Birmingham, Manchester et Liver- 
pool, " and other references to the rails are made by 
means of the same word. In 1827, in Girard's transla- 
tion of Gerstner's Memoire, ornieres is used, but also 
1)arres. In Baader, 1829, we find only ornieres. He 
translates the EngUsh plate rails, as is natural, by ornieres 
plates. But while in English the expression edge rails 
is perfectly logical, for Baader to keep ornieres and say 
ornieres saillantes for eage [sic] rails seems rather violent. 
He never uses the word rails as a French word. 

In 1830, however, the English word had begun to come 
in, for in the very book ia which Perdonnet defended 
with such care the illogical ornieres and maintained that 
it was the most usual term, he entitles a section of his 
work ''Nature et forme des miZs." But he adds this 
note, rather at variance with the note which he appends 
to his title and which was quoted above: ''Rails est un 
mot par lequel on designe en anglais les pieces en bois 
ou barres de metal qui forment les ornieres du chemin. 
Cette expression etant passee dans notre langue, nous 
I'emploierons comme synonyme avec ornieres.'^ And in 


accordance with this statement, he alternates the two 
without much preference. For instance, a title reads, 
"Rails en bois et en fer." The first sentence following 
has, "Dans les ornieres en bois et en fer . . ." 

But by 1834 ornieres had lost ground. In the Musee 
des families of that year (p. 184) the writer of an article 
on the railroads explains the word ornieres, but never 
uses it. He says with finality: "Leur nom anglais, rails, 
est passe dans notre langue." Yet even in 1838 usage 
was not so finally settled but that in a government report 
on the subject of the railroad by M. Arago (pubUshed 
in the Moniteur universel and quoted by Schlemmer) we 
find rails described rather than actually named: "des 
bandes de fer bien dressees, sur lesquelles tournent les 
roues," or " chemin a bandes metalliques." Perhaps, how- 
ever, this is the natural verbosity of government reports. 
And it must be admitted that we also find such phrases as 
"rails en fer et en fonte," "le placement des rails." From 
this time on ornieres no longer appears. Rails has come 
off victor in this first struggle of the new terminology. 

Since the English said rails, they spoke of a raiZ-road 
or a ra^7-way. What shall the French call the new sys- 
tem? Again we find more than one name proposed for 
this need — seventeen, in fact, if we count all, even the 
less important. Let us assemble the various names that 
at one time or another seemed likely to become the name 
of what the English already knew as the railroad or rail- 
way and what the French now call chemin de fer, occa- 
sionally voie ferree : 
1. Chemin en fer: used in the advertising notice in 
Baader of the translation of Gerstner (1824). In 
the translation of 1827 this was generally changed 
to the ordinary chemin de fer, though chemin en 
fer is somewhat in use. 


2. Chemindfer : Berryer, Moniteur umversel,Ma,y 9 ylS^S. 

3. Chemin a ornieres (defer) : Baader, Coste et Perdonnet. 

4. Chemin d harres : Journal des savants, 1826. 

5. Chemin d locomotive: Report of Arago, quoted by 


6. Chemin d vapeur : Report of Arago, quoted by 


7. Chemin d la vapeur: Berryer, Moniteur universel, 

May 9, 1838. 

8. Chemin d rail : a close parallel to the English name, 

used by Perdonnet in a translation of Wood, 1832. 

9. Routes d ornieres (de fer): Archives des decouvertes, 

Coste et Perdonnet. 

10. Routes d harrieres : Ferussac, Bulletin universel. 

11. Route ferree: Baader. 

12. Routes en fer : Musee des families, Coste et Perdon- 

net, Ferussac. 

13. Routes de fer : Musee des families. 

14. Voie de fer : Legrand, directeur des ponts et chaussees, 

quoted by Schlemmer. 

15. Railway : used on plans in V Illustration, 1845. 

16. Chemin de fer. 

17. Voie ferree. 

Of these seventeen possibilities which is the most 
likely to become established? Which is most suited to 
the genius of the language? In the first conflict the 
English word rails has won. As long as there was likeli- 
hood of the rails being called in French ornieres there 
was also probability of the railroad being named in 
French chemin d ornieres. And it is true that in 1830 
many authors felt that this is the term most Ukely to 
be selected.^ Is it a bit awkwardf Does it fail to come 
out with the ease of the phrase chemin de ferf Possibly. 
But without these considerations the disappearance of 
2 See Ferussac, Bulletin universel, IV, § 119; V, § 125. 


the word ornieres is in itself sufficient to account for the 
failure of the name chemin a ornieres. 

On the other hand, if the ornieres are to be called 
rails, will not some such name as chemin a rails be likely 
to be adopted? Is not an EngUsh name in any case 
Ukely? Even railway. The use of the word tramway 
in French shows that this would not have been impossible. 
Some authors seemed inclined to favor this name. We 
find in the Journal des savants, in 1826, ^'les Anglais ont 
etabli leurs railways." Or perhaps a literal translation 
of the EngUsh name will please, something like chemin 
a harres, also found in the Journal des savants.^ 

Or will not the wonderful invention of the steam 
locomotive lead men to desire some such name as chemin 
a locomotive or chemin a vapeurf There were in fact 
advocates of such names. By 1838, following the dis- 
carded word ornieres, the idea of using horses as motive 
power for the new roads has disappeared. The new 
invention is coming to more and more successful develop- 
ment. In a burst of pride M. Arago, in his report, says: 
^'Des aujourd'hui les chemins de fer devraient s'appeler 
des chemins a locomotives ou bien des chemins a vapeur.'^ 
And at about the same date M. Berryer, in his Discours, 
glorying in the progress of the railroads, echoes: "II ne 
faut pas parler des chemins a fer mais des chemins a 

Not so, however. This reasoning, though logical 
enough, could not prevail against the term which had 
already begun to **set." From the very first the name 
chemin de fer persisted with a certain calm obstinacy. 

3 Ferussac's Bulletin universel, V, § 125, in a review gives the 
English title "Report on Rail Roads and Locomotive Engines," 
and then translates it as "Rapport sur les routes a ornieres et sur 
les machines mobiles, par Ch. Sylvestre. Londres, 1825." Again, 
IV, 51, it uses "routes a barrieres" to translate an EngUsh title. 


Even at the time of the greatest popularity of the word 
ornieres as the narae for the rails, the term chemin de fer 
was beginning to estabhsh itself. Perdonnet says in 
1830: ''Tout le monde sait aujourd'hui ce que Ton 
enten'd par chemins de fer (railways) ou plus generalement 
chemins a ornieres^'; and the subtle scorn of this "plus 
generalement" had no ultimate effect. Having beaten 
chemin a ornieres early in the race, the successful chemin 
de fer is not to be vanquished by terms proposed by the 
government ministers in 1838, when it is well established. 
And who shall say that the name that won was not the 
best? There is nothing foreign about chemin de fer. 
It cannot be called an imitation (the Enghsh term pre- 
sents no equivalent for fer). It is brief, well formed, 
smooth. It pronounces well, unhke some of the others 
proposed. It is a spontaneous word, an independent 
word, truly French in invention and spirit. 

Reviewing the process by which chemin de fer was 
selected as the approved name, we see that in the two 
translations of Gerstner, 1824 and 1827, the terms chemifi 
en fer and chemin de fer were used. In 1826 Duverne's 
translation of Tredgold uses chemin de fer and never 
chemin a orniereSy though we do find chemin de fer a 
ornieres creuses ou saillantes. In 1829 Baader uses chemin 
de fer in his title, but in the text chemin a ornieres about 
as frequently. Once he says chemin a ornieres de fer, and 
once la route ferree. In 1830 Coste and Perdonnet favor 
a new terminology based on ornieres, which they feel is 
enjoying greater popularity than rails. Their title reads: 
''Memoire sur les chemins a ornieres"; and the work 
begins: ''Tout le monde sait ce que Ton entend par 
chemins de fer (railways) ou, plus generalement, chemins 
a ornieres." Throughout the book the authors use both 
terms and also very frequently routes en fer and routes a 


But these variants do not prevail, and as ornieres 
appears, by 1834, to have lost standing as against rails, 
so chemin de fer is by that date pretty well estabhshed. 
In the Musee des Families, a magazine in which we expect 
to find the popular use reflected, we find in 1834 that 
chemin de fer is the most frequently used term, although 
it is evident that there is still considerable indecision by 
reason of the frequent variation to forms hke routes en 
fer and routes de fer. However, it is noteworthy that 
in these variant forms the quahfication is not by means 
of the word ornieres, nor even by means of its successor, 
rails, but always by fer, which seems to have been defi- 
nitely selected as the qualifying term, in whatever way it 
may come to be used. In 1838 we find Arago and also 
Berryer assailing fer and proposing as quahfier a locomo- 
tives and a la vapeur or a vapeur. But without success; 
for by this time we may say that chemin rather than 
route has gained the position as substantive member of 
the new name, and that fer has been finally chosen for 
the qualifier in preference to ornieres, harres, rails, loco- 
motive or vapeur. It has also been pretty well settled 
in what way these two elements shall be combined, and 
chemin de fer stands established as the successful form. 
We hear less and less of its rivals, except vote ferree, which 
(having its quahfjdng member of the same family, be it 
noted, as that of chemin de fer) has persisted to a certain 
extent down to the present time. 

Having settled that we are to say rails and not ornieres 
or harres, and chemin de fer rather than any of the other 
names proposed, what will the French call what the Eng- 
Hsh have named *' locomotive engines," ^' steam engines," 
"steam carriages" or ''locomotive steam carriages? " At 
the first, it is true, there is no question of this at all. The 
early chemin de fer, or rather chemin a ornieres, had no 


such accompaniment, and so needed no such name. The 
motive power at this time was that of the horse. But 
as early as 1826, in Duverne's translation of Tredgold, 
the question begins to arise, and the new machines re- 
ceive about equal consideration with horses as '^moyens 
de traction." At that time, when the machine was men- 
tioned it was by the title of ''machine a vapeur station- 
naire ou locomotive," obviously a description and not 
yet a name. 

Imagining ourselves back at the point of view of 1826, 
may we not expect, since the new machine so obviously 
takes the place of the horse, that there will be a tendency 
to give it some name to indicate this substitution ? Will 
it not be natural to call it cheval a vapeur, cheval de fer, 
or something of the sort ? It used to be popular in Eng- 
lish to refer to the ''iron horse." We consider that the 
new system was developing from horse hues in mining 
districts, and from the tow paths along canals, in both 
of which situations the motive power was the horse. 
We recall that at the first the cars were the same which 
people were accustomed to see drawn by horses and that 
they were for a long time designated by the same word 
as before, that is, chariots. We recall that whatever 
variation there was in the name for the system, the 
words chemin, route, and voie were always present. And 
these words surely suggest the horse. We note that 
almost from the first the word voiture came naturally 
into use. And certainly the idea cheval has close associa- 
tions with this word. And when we take all these things 
into account we wonder how it is that the candidacy at 
least of some such combination as cheval de fer or cheval 
a vapeur was not presented. Yet of all the railroad terms, 
locomotive stands practically alone as an unrivaled pos- 
sessor of its field from the very beginning. It is true that 
in the Illustration, and even as late as 1846, we meet 


this sentence: ''Le hennissement de la locomotive an- 
nonce Farrivee du convoi du prince." But this was a 
special occasion, the inauguration of the new Une from 
Paris to Orleans. And at such a time the locomotive may 
be allowed, rhetorically at least, to neigh or even to paw 
the ground. But on ordinary occasions popular thought, 
in spite of its usual love of the imaginative, was not 
prepared to go to this length of metaphor. We see no 
attempt to name the new machine in this way. 

Will it then be named as the automobile was later to 
be named? In 1875 there was some Hkelihood of the 
automobile being called a fiacre electrique or fiacre a vapeur, 
because it was a fiacre with a motor in it. In the case of 
the machine that was to be named in 1826 we have a 
chariot with a machine in it. Will it be called a chariot 
a vapeur or a chariot machine, or something of the sort? 
If, as the automobile was later named fiacre automohiUy 
this machine is named chariot locomotif, using the English 
adjective already current, the name will then abbreviate 
into locomotif in the mascuhne rather than locomotive 
in the feminine. The English have already shown an 
inclination to this form of name when they have said 
steam carriage alongside of locomotive engine. Is it not 
possible that the French may find, in this, support for 
chariot locomotif f In 1830 Perdonnet describes the new 
machine as ''une machine placee sur un chariot." And 
in 1834, in the Magasin pittoresque, we read: "Tantot 
on emploie comme moteur des chariots a vapeur qui se 
meuvent d'eux-memes en trainant les wagons apres eux. 
On leur donne le nom de machines locomotives. '^ But 
from this last statement we see that the author had no 
desire or hope of imposing such a name as chariot a vapeur. 
For him the object was already named with finahty. '' On 
leur donne le nom de machines locomotives," and that 
settles the question. 


From the first, the quaUfier was consistently locomo- 
tive in the feminine to agree with machine, and never 
locomotif to agree with chariot. The name did not de- 
velop from the starting point of either cheval or chariot, 
as might have been the case, if all the machines had been 
placed in chariots. But many were in the beginning 
stationary, and it was the contrast with these rather 
than the contrast with the cheval or the chariot that 
was emphasized in the new name locomotive. The notice- 
able thing was not that horse power was being replaced 
by steam, but rather that the stationary engines used 
in pumps, hoists, etc., were being made movable. There 
were already machines, now there were coming into being 
machines locomotives. This was the new fact. 

The usage began in Duverne, 1826, as machine a va- 
peur stationnaire ou locomotive, with " stationnaire " stand- 
ing nearer the noun than *' locomotive." Baader, in 1829, 
reverses the order and sets '^ locomotive " first, preparing 
the way for the latter adjective to fall away unnoticed. 
He says machines locomotives ou fixes. Does the altera- 
tion of the order of words record the increasing prevalence 
of the movable over the fixed machines ? Locomotive is 
still purely adjective. When Baader wants a noun he 
uses machine and says, ^'batiments pour recevoir les ma- 
chines.''^ In 1834 (Musee des families) and in 1838 
(Revue des Deux Mondes) locomotive is still generally 
adjective, and although the simple noun locomotive is 
used occasionally, machine locomotive is frequent. In 
1838, however, in Arago's government report, although 
the complete formal title machine locomotive a vapeur is 
at first used, we soon find all the phrase except locomo- 
tive dropped, and we see the noun really developed. 

But locomotive was not the only adjective that was 
tried. The adjectives roulante and mobile are both found 
in early references as the qualifiers of the noun machine. 


In 1826 the Archives des decouvertes has an article en- 
titled, "Essai d'une machine a vapeur roulante,'^ which 
begins: ^'On a fait le 17 Janvier 1825, une grande expe- 
rience sur la force des machines a vapeur roulantes a la 
mine de houille de Killingsworth. ... La machine mobile 
etait de la force de huit chevaux." And in the Journal 
des savants we find, ''machines a vapeur mobiles ou 
machines locomotives^^ (italics original). But these words 
failed to strike the popular fancy and had Httle vogue. 

Now let us consider how some of the other names were 
selected. Darmesteter regrets {Creation actuelle, p. 253) 
that the car that follows the locomotive and carries the 
coal and water was not named by the good French word 
already existing, allege, rather than by an English im- 
portation, tender. There was, however, so far as I can 
find, no inclination at any time to use this word allege. 
Yet for all that, the car was not originally called a tender. 
In 1826 {Archives des decouvertes) it had no name at all, 
but had to be described at great length if referred to: 
''La machine mobile . . . pesait avec son char additionnel 
renfermant la provision d^eau et de houille. ..." This was 
rather long. In 1830, in Perdonnet's book, we find it 
somewhat abbreviated and appearing as "chariot d'ap- 
provisionnement." That this name did not stand is 
amply accounted for by its length. Allege, however, was 
not the substitute. Instead, in 1845, in the Bruxelles 
Bulletin, and in 1846 in the Illustration, we find "le 
tender." And Perdonnet also, in 1859, has adopted the 
term, which thus comes in without much trouble. 

What are now called voitures and wagons were not so 
named at the first. It is true that both words were used 
early and were very natural words to use, but there was 
another which threatened to be a rival, at least for a short 
time. The reason is clear. For at first the chemin de fer, 


we remember, was merely the road for hauling coal, etc., 
just as it existed, with merely the addition of the ''or- 
nieres creuses ou saillantes." The same vehicles that 
were used before the installation of the ornieres continued 
to be used afterwards. Nor was there any reason to 
change their name. Even after the motor power of 
steam was substituted for that of horses, the vehicles 
remained as before and were called, as before, chariots. 
Duverne, in his translation of Tredgold (1826), renders 
the EngUsh wagons by the French word chariots. Some- 
times the word char was used, as in 1826 in Archives des 
decouvertes : ^'On disposa a la suite les uns des autres 
sur cette route douze chars. ... On fit trainer par la 
machine les douze chars attaches ensemble. ... La ma- 
chine a traine 30 chars.'' 

But, as passengers began to be carried and vehicles 
suitable to this use began to be employed, the word 
chariot began to seem unsuitable and commenced to be 
supplanted by the more natural word voiture or by the 
English importation wagon. These two words came in 
very early, but still chariot persisted, and not only for 
freight cars, but also for passenger coaches. Even in 
1835 we hear of the ''seconde classe de chariots.'' 

The details of the supplanting of chariot and the 
accepting of wagon are as follows. At first the cars are 
very generally referred to as ''chariots nommes wagons." 
Baader (1829) uses both chariots and voitures, but not 
wagons. In 1830 Perdonnet speaks of ''chariots dits en 
Anglais waggons." In 1834, in the Musee des families, 
we read of "une suite de 30 ou 40 chariots nommes 
wagons," and we find wagon frequently. In the same 
year, in the Magasin pittoresque, we are told that the word 
wagons, like the word rails, is "un mot anglais passe 
dans la langue." But in spite of this the same magazine, 
in an article published the year after, twice avoids the 


opportunity to use the new word they have mentioned 
as having passed into the language. They say: "Un 
homme qui se trouvait dans la seconde classe de chariots 
persista a vouloir s'elancer hors de la voiture.^' Thus, 
even in 1835, chariot is not altogether supplanted. 

Voiture is, however, becoming the usual name for the 
passenger cars. In 1838, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, 
it is the general word : '' quatre trains de voitures chargees 
de voyageurs." And yet in the same year, in M. Arago's 
report, it is obliged to divide the honors with wagon. 
In the Bruxelles report there is a tendency to limit voi- 
ture to passenger cars and wagon to freight. Chariot 
finally disappears completely. 

What word shall be used to name a collection of cha- 
riots or wagons or voitures now called a train? Here 
again there is not an immediate selection. As long as 
the motor power was horses there was little need of such 
a word, for such an arrangement was rarely possible. 
When steam comes and makes it possible to draw several 
cars together, shall we take the name from the canal 
terminology, or shall we adopt the word the English are 
using? On the canals a string of boats was called a 
convoi. Examples of this are (Memoire on the canals 
by Girard, published in Annates de Chimie et de Physique, 
1820, p. 233): "Pour faire passer le premier bateau du 
convoV; "Un nombre de convois de bateaux.'' In the 
railway language in England the word train was used. 
Tredgold (p. 74) has: "in drawing forward the train of 
wagons''; (p. 99) "the part of the train drawn by one 
horse." In this case, then, the selection, unless both 
words be retained, is to be made between convoi and 
train. Both are good French words, already well known 
to the language and possessing meanings that can be 
easily extended to cover the newly arisen need. 


Convoi, as recorded by the dictionary of Laveaux, 
1820, before the rise of the railway, had, besides the use 
in canal parlance which we have mentioned but which 
Laveaux fails to record, a use also in miUtary termi- 
nology and in the marine vocabulary. In the first it 
named a train of provisions, arms, etc., escorted by a 
guard; in the second, a war vessel conducting one or a 
fleet of merchant vessels. In the latter use the exten- 
sion to mean the vessels conducted would be easy, and 
then the additional extension to the use now needed in 
the railway vocabulary would be also a natural one. 
Likewise, in the former use, the similarity between a 
convoi of ammunition wagons and a similar arrangement 
of railway chariots would be easily evident. 

The word train was also used at this time in senses 
that would allow of an easy transfer to the new use. It 
had a military use, being applied to the artillery, ammu- 
nition, etc., following an army. It was also used to name 
a mass of logs bound together to be floated down a 
stream. Either of the two words, then, convoi or train, 
particularly from their mihtary uses, would seem to be 
easily available for the newly arisen need. 

There was another word with a military and naval use 
which might likewise seem to fit it for adaptation to the 
new need. And this word was in fact for a time some- 
what used. It is the word transport. We find, in 1834, 
in the Musee des families: "Des gares (sidings) places 
de distance en distance permettent aux transports de se 
detourner.'' But the use of this word did not become 
popular and examples are rare. 

The same article makes use of still another, a fourth, 
word for the same idea. It speaks of *'une suite de 30 
ou 40 chariots." This word seems a less logical one than 
either of the others. It was used up to 1826 in the mean- 
ing of a party following a king. It was common in the 


plirase ^'carrosses de suite," meaning ''les carrosses qui 
sont chez un prince pour I'usage des domestiques " (Die- 
tionnaire de VAcademie, 1835). It had various abstract 
uses, illustrated by the following examples: ^'Pour bien 
entendre ce passage il faut lire la sm^6. Get ouvrage est 
le resultat d'une longue suite d'observations. Une suite 
de livres, de medailles, de portraits. Une longue suite 
de rois." To pass from these meanings to the appHca- 
tion of the word as now required by the railroad is a far 
more violent transfer than to apply convoi or train or 
even transport. The phrase "de suite' ' in the sense of one 
after the other, ''faites les marcher de suite," might give 
a better point of departure. But in any case it hardly 
seems likely that the usage of the Musee des families 
can prevail. And as a matter of fact suite, along with 
transport, retired early from the field, leaving convoi and 
train in possession. 

Of these two, convoi had the advantage of being used 
in canal terminology, train the advantage of being used 
in EngHsh, from which so many other railroad terms were 
being taken. There was, of course, no necessity of an 
absolute choice between the two with the complete 
extinction of the one and the complete acceptance of 
the other. In EngHsh we find that the words railroad 
and railway have continued to exist side by side for 
about a hundred years and continue to share the 
domain amicably. May we not expect convoi and train 
both to survive in similar manner? Will there not 
be need of a division of labor in which the two can 
share ? 

Let us see how usage operated with these two words. 
In 1829, in Baader, train is preferred. Occasionally he 
avoids the word as if not quite sure of it, as when he 
says: ''un certain nombre de voitures." But a little 
later we find: "Le conducteur n'a rien autre chose a 


faire que de detacher les chevaux du trainJ' On page 95 
he speaks of ''un train de chariots"; and on page 97, 
''un train de voitures lourdement chargees." Again, he 
avoids the word and says: '*Un bon cheval pent trainer 
au grand pas une charge de 12 a 14 tonneaux distribuee 
sur plusieurs charidts attaches les uns aux autresJ^ By 
his saying ''plusieurs chariots attaches les uns aux autres," 
instead of ' un train de plusieurs chariots," we see that 
usage still hesitated at times. In hesitations like this 
we are witnessing one of the stages that make up the 
process of the selection of the new terminology. 

In 1834, as we have seen, come gropings toward the 
use of suite or transport, instead of the word train, which 
had been more or less tentatively used by Baader. But 
they were without result. By 1838 there is uncertainty 
of a less vague sort. Then there is vacillation between 
two definite candidates, convoi and train, not among four. 
In this year in the Revue des Deux Mondes we find: ''Qua- 
tre trains de voitures chargees de voyageurs." But 
within a few sentences we come to the following: "L'un 
des deux convois devait attendre I'autre." In 1843 the 
Illustration seems to have completely excluded the word 
train in favor of convoi. This is the constant practice in 
the article on the inauguration of the " chemin de fer de 
Paris a Orleans." In 1846, in the same magazine, train 
is again found in some favor, though convoi is still the 
more frequent of the two. A subtitle reads: ''Les voi- 
tures isolees et les convois.^' Further on we read: "les 
trains entiers," but immediately afterward: "il place 
en queue du convoi une voiture." We find "trains arti- 
cules," and "tout le train est a convert dans la gare." 
An absolute selection appears never to have been made. 
Larousse to-day quotes the expression "manquer le 
convoi," though adding the note, "on dit plus ordinaire- 
ment train." 


There was a similar hesitancy in the selection of the 
name for a tunnel. At first, while the chemins a ornieres 
followed closely the canals, there were no such things 
as tunnels. Baader, in 1829, speaking of those in Eng- 
land, calls them galeries souterraines and puts in paren- 
theses the English name tunnel. In 1830 Perdonnet does 
the same thing, saying, however, simply galerie without 
the adjective souterraine, e.g., "galerie" (tunnel). In 
1834, in the Musee des families, sl picture of a tunnel is 
labeled, ''entree d'une galerie voutee,'' and all through 
the article we find uncertainty as to what is the real 
name. The author uses three different names, galerie, 
galerie souterraine, and souterrain in the masculine. In 
1836, in the Magasin pittoresque, we find souterrain several 
times as the only word used. In 1838 Arago's report 
uses "souterrains ou tunnels.^' In 1843, in the Illustration, 
we are told of ''trois souterrains,'' but under the pictures 
of them they are called ^'tunnel de Rolleboise," ''tunnel 
de Tourville.'' In 1845 the Bulletin de Bruxelles speaks 
of ''ponts, ponceaux, viaducs, et tunnels,'^ but also of 
''la galerie souterraine de Tirlemont.'^ Eventually, of 
course, after this rather long hesitation, it is tunnel that 
is selected, and the word which the English had pre- 
viously borrowed from French is now borrowed back 
again in slightly disguised form. 

The latest of all the things to be named, because it 
was the last of the equipment to be needed and con- 
structed, was the station. The question was. What shall 
be the name of the buildings which form the terminals 
of the railroad lines? It would seem that the canals 
would not offer much help. What was there in their 
equipment that corresponded to the railroad station as 
it subsequently developed? Nothing. And yet, after 
all, it is precisely from the canals that the name was to 


come. Gare was originally a canal word. Its semantic 
course is interesting, yet not surprising. In the canal 
vocabulary of 1825 or 1830 a gare was a '4ieu destine, sur 
les rivieres, pour y retirer les bateaux de maniere qu'ils 
soient en surete, qu'ils soient a I'abri des glaces et des 
inondations, et n'embarrassent point la navigation." 
This is how the Dictionary of the Academy, in 1835, 
defined the word. At this time one spoke of '^les gares 
de Charenton," ''la gare de St. Ouen." In the Diction- 
naire historique de la ville de Paris, by Hurtaut, 1779 
(III, 116), listed alphabetically among the sights of 
Paris, is ''La Gare." It is described as being in the 
"quartier de la Place Maubert, pres de la Salpetriere, 
au dela de la barriere de Saint Bernard. C'est une espece 
de golphe que Ton destine pour mettre a convert des 
glaces etc. les bateaux d'approvisionnement de Paris." 
This is what a gare was in 1779 and until 1830 — a 

In 1843, on the other hand, in the long article in the 
Illustration describing the inauguration of the Paris- 
Orleans railroad, we find the word gare used freely in the 
modern sense. At this time la gare d'Orleans was the 
name of the station in Paris. What has been the proc- 
ess of development from the usage of Hurtaut, recorded 
by the Academy in 1835, and this new use, crystalHzed 
pretty firmly in 1843 ? 

In the early days of the railroad, stations did not exist. 
The first one, in Paris, was built in 1836. What was the 
state of the terminology at that time ? It was in transi- 
tion. Although the word gare had acquired, between 
1830 and 1836, a meaning quite different from the one 
in which Hurtaut used it, it had not gotten its modern 
meaning. This is shown by an article in the Magasin 
pittoresque in 1836. It refers to the new station in Paris 
at first without giving it any real name. "Le chemin 


de fer terminera," it says, ^'sur la place de la Madeleine 
par une construction monumentale." This is not a name. 
Yet a little later in the same article the author uses the 
word gare, not, to be sure, in the modern sense, but not, 
either, in Hurtaut's meaning. He says: ''Le trace com- 
mence dans Paris par une gare de 500 metres de long 
destinee au service des voyageurs. Cette gare a son 
origine a un beau batiment." To say that this gare has 
its beginning in a building is not exactly to give the 
word gare its modern meaning. It is, however, a change 
from the usage that had been growing up just previously. 
To realize this we have only to examine what was the 
use of the years between 1830 and 1836. 

During this time the word gare was extended from its 
meaning in the canal vocabulary to mean what the Eng- 
lish meant by the word siding. But it was not immedi- 
ately selected to name these new things. Although it 
was an ordinary enough word, there was some hesita- 
tion before it was chosen to name this portion of the 
railroad equipment. It was not at the first thought of. 
For a time it seemed more likely that sidings might be 
called by their EngUsh name than that the word famihar 
to the people as the name of a place to moor boats would 
be appropriated and applied to these places to sidetrack 
trains. So at first the writers contented themselves with 
describing these places rather than naming them, put- 
ting in parentheses the English name as if, although the 
French had no name for them, they were hardly willing 
to adopt a foreign word but yet did not know exactly 
what to do and would wait to see what popular usage 
would settle on. 

For instance, Baader (1829), when he wants to refer 
to what would now be called a voie de garage, and what 
the EngHsh called a siding, says, '*des portions de chemin 
de fer lateraux," and then puts in parentheses '' siding 


ou passing place." He was, of course, merely translat- 
ing an English work, but he shows us that at the time 
no French term for the EngUsh name existed or he would 
scarcely have rendered it in the roundabout way he 
does. He even indicates that he knew of no proposed 
word for this need, for he later avoids his long phrase 
only by referring to the sidings by the indefinite ''ces 
appareils." In another place he varies his original phrase 
to "portions de traces lateraux." Once he refers to them 
as "appareils couteux pour detourner les voitures," and 
again as '^ pieces de chemin laterales (siding places ou 
turnouts)." All this shows lack of any settled or even 
suggested terminology. These "appareils," so far have 
not themselves acquired the name that they are so soon 
to extend to the whole terminal building. 

Perdonnet, in 1830, makes a sort of beginning towards 
a name for the stations. But instead of going at it from 
the starting point of the gares of the canals, he com- 
mences with an entirely different idea. The ideas of 
loading and unloading, the ordinary coqamercial ter- 
minology, the usual names of buildings used for business 
purposes, seem to him to offer a more natural starting 
point. So he speaks of the "points de dechargement," 
"magasins et places de chargement et de dechargement " ; 
and in a table of estimated expenses he uses the general 
terms "hangars, batiments, etc." In referring to what 
seem to be the stations at Liverpool and Manchester, he 
says, "les magasins aux points de station de Liverpool 
et Manchester." However, Perdonnet was on the wrong 
track. It was not from these words that the name was 
to come. 

So we return to the other Une of development, which is 
the one that is to give us the term. In 1834 we do not 
find much suggestion that the word gare is soon to mean 
what it does to-day. But we do find it pretty well es- 


tablished in the intermediate stage, that is, in the sense 
of siding. It has at least been safely transferred from 
th^ canal vocabulary to that of the railroad. In this 
year we find it in the Musee des families used in this 
sense, attended, however, by the English word in paren- 
theses: ''Mais des gares (sidings) placees de distance en 
distance permettent aux transports de se detourner." 
In this article it is used twice. 

I said it was at this time fairly well established. Yet 
it is not used by all writers as the definitely selected 
equivalent for the EngHsh siding. In the Magasin pit- 
toresque for the same year a writer comes out emphati- 
cally with a totally different term. He speaks with 
authority and says: ''Des doubles voies de distance en 
distance ont regu le nom de croisieres." The writer is 
here evidently speaking of the same thing that the other 
called a gave. His word has lived, it is true, in the vocabu- 
lary of the railroads. But not in the sense he gave it, 
for to-day it means " etat de deux voies ferrees qui se 
croisent a niveau '^ (Larousse), and not a sidetrack, still 
less a station. 

By 1836, two years later, our word gare has made 
great progress and we reach the second stage in its de- 
velopment. It is extending its field to cover at least part 
of the complete idea of station, though even yet it is 
by no means used to name the whole station as we shall 
find it in 1843. As we saw above, from the quotation 
from the Magasin pittoresque, it seems to refer to a part 
of the station, more particularly the platform of the train 
shed, for the writer says that "une gare de 500 metres 
de long a son origine a un beau batiment.'' Later he 
says: "Apres le pont, est etabhe une gare de 250 metres 
de long et de 100 metres de large, destinee a recevoir 
en stationnement les marchandises arrivant de St. Ger- 
main, qui viendront attendre les besoins de la consom- 


mation." Three times he speaks of ^'une gare pour les 
voyageurs/' and once of "une gare de dechargement 
pour les marchandises." It is not possible to tell just 
how far these uses are in the modern sense, or how far 
they are in the sense of the other passage which spoke 
of the gare as having its beginning in a "beau batiment." 
But when we come to look at a picture of what is very 
evidently ''la gare," as we should call it to-day, we feel 
sure that to the writer of the title the word gare did not 
refer to the building, for the picture is labeled, "Fagade 
de Fentree du chemin de fer d'apres les desseins de la 

The final stage of the development of the word is 
shown, as we have seen, in the Illustration in 1843. Here 
we find in the complete modern sense, "la gare d'Orleans," 
"les principales gares d'Angleterre." The following de- 
velopment is now finished: before 1829 the word gare 
meant a place for mooring canal boats; soon after, it 
began to be used in the sense of voie de garage; about 
1836 it was beginning to be extended to mean at least 
part of the building erected at an important voie de ga- 
rage; and by 1843 it had become the regular name for 
such buildings, the equivalent of the English word 

While it was well estabhshed in 1843, the word gare 
had nevertheless a rival. As in the case of train and 
convoij tunnel and souterrain, the field in this case was 
not to belong to one word alone. About 1841 we find in 
many cases the words embarcadere and deharcadere used 
instead of gare. These words, from the Spanish, were 
already in the marine vocabulary. During the '40's, 
at least, there seems to have been a growing preference 
for them in the railroad terminology. A plan of Paris 
dated 1841 {Paris de 1800-1900, Ch. Simond. II, 265) 
marks all the stations Emh-, and in the Illustration, while 


gare is the more frequent, still embarcadere is often used. 
By 1846 it has gained ground, for the articles in the 
Illustration use it more frequently than gare. It is 
especially popular in the titles of pictures, and both 
articles of this date label practically all the pictures em- 
barcadere and debarcadere. And to-day, of course, these 
words are still in use, though less favored than gare. 

There was still a third word, a word with which the 
word gare to-day is still sharing its domain, namely the 
word station. This word, before the coming of the rail- 
roads, was used of a place where post horses were changed. 
It had also a naval use. A vessel was said to be en station 
when it was assigned to the patrol of a certain extent of 
sea (Laveaux, 1820). From either of these uses, from 
the first in particular, the word could easily be transferred 
to the railroad vocabulary, especially as it was a term 
already in use on the EngUsh railroads. We have seen 
that in 1830 Perdonnet remotely suggested this word 
when he referred to what were apparently the stations 
at Manchester and Liverpool as, '4es magasins au 
points de station de Manchester et Liverpool." Of course 
the phrase ^'points de station" was in this case more 
particularly reminiscent of the post chaise than prophetic 
of the later use of the word. Not until 1838, when the 
word gare is getting soHdly fixed in the meaning of '^voie 
de garage," do we meet the term station again. And it 
too is in no more advanced a stage of semantic develop- 
ment than is its rival gare, for we find it still in the inter- 
mediate form ''en station," as used by Perdonnet in 1830. 
The following quotation is from La Revue des Deux Mondes 
(1838, p. 170): "En determinant d'avance quelques 
points de station ou Fun des convois devait attendre 
Tautre, sans qu'un convoi fiit expose a heurter contre 
un autre convoi allant en sens contraire." The term 
point de station is here apparently synonymous with 


garCf as the latter was used at this time; that is, in the 
meaning of siding. The term gare d'evitement, however, 
appears immediately: ''En se tenant dans des gares 
d^evitement convenablement echelonnees sur toute la dis- 

The two terms, gare and station, continue an even 
advance in their respective transitions of meaning. Gare 
is still in its intermediate meaning of siding, and station 
has not as yet appeared as the name of the building where 
trains stop. But in 1843 the Illustration, besides giving 
us, as we have seen, the words gare, emharcadere, and 
deharcadere, settled in their final meanings, also shows 
us the fourth term, station, in the same settled state. It 
speaks of ''Colombes, ou le chemin de Rouen a une 
station,'' and says also ''Triel, Meulan, etc. — voila les 
differentes stations du chemin de fer." It may very 
probably be that in these examples the word is not used 
in the meaning of building. It is probable that when the 
writer spoke of Colombes as having a station he did not 
mean a building but merely a point of call, a stop. Still 
it can readily be seen how easy must have been the 
passage to the later meaning from just such uses as 
these. When the station at Colombes, that is, the act of 
stopping at Colombes, necessitated a building there, 
what more natural than that the building should also 
be spoken of as the station f 

The word station also early got the modern significa- 
tion which differentiates it from the word gare. We 
read in the Illustration, in 1846, a plea not to give ''au 
petit chemin de Sceaux une de ces gares colossales" 
found in large cities. But in Belgium there was a curi- 
ously complete reversal of this use. In 1845, in the 
Bulletin de Bruxelles, we find: ''II a fallu multiplier les 
points d'arret, faire de veritables stations \k ou Ton pen- 
sait que de simples gares sufiiraient." Such quotations 


as the following, however, show us that in general the 
word station was reserved generally as time went on for 
the smaller points: ''Les premieres stations en sortant 
de Paris sont Arcueil. ..." 

Although the word gare, in 1846, has extended its 
meaning far beyond its original field of gare d'evitement, 
it has not lost all traces of its humble origin. In such a 
sentence as the following the word evidently refers to 
the whole station, including train shed, platforms, etc.: 
^'Tout le train est a convert dans la gare^ But in other 
cases there is hesitation to apply it so widely and it seems 
to be restricted to the train shed. For example: "Ces 
salles {e.g., les salles d'attente) s'ouvrent sur la gare 
circulaire; un vaste trottoir s'avance jusqu'a la voie de 
fer." This seems to show that this writer did not include 
in the idea of the word the ''beau batiment" which was 
connected with the train shed. Very likely even he 
would not have hesitated to speak of the gare in the same 
way as the writer who ten years before him, in 1836, said 
that *'une gare de 500 metres de long a son origine a un 
beau batiment." But we have perhaps followed the 
word far enough on its way towards its present use, and 
so have completed the details of the investigation of the 
more important of the railroad terms. 

Like all suddenly devised terminologies, made up 
from the nature of the case of neologisms of one sort or 
another, the railroad vocabulary was objected to in 
some quarters. Viennet, in his Epttre a Boileau, hie a 
rinstitut, le 14 aout, 1855 (quoted by Nyrop, I, § 75), 
says regretfully, or perhaps fiercely: 

"On n'entend que des mots a d^chirer le fer; 
Le railway, le tunnel, le ballast, le tender, 
Express, trucks et wagons, une bouche frangaise 
Semble broyer du verre, ou macher de la braise." 


But things are not so bad. M. Viennet should have 
comforted himself with the thought that there were not 
more of these objectionable words, and worse ones. He 
should have considered what he had escaped and been 
thankful. He should have remembered that it is chemin 
de fer and not railway that is the real name of the rail- 
road. He might have reason to complain if he were 
writing in the days of the tramway. But that was yet 
to come. He should have thought that voie de garage 
came near being siding. And how would that have been 
pronounced ? * And suppose that, instead of being con- 
tent with the barbarous wagon, the word makers had 
perpetrated the greater barbarity oi carriage, coach, or 
car, any or all of them. What jaw breaking he would 
then have suffered ! Though, after all, the word coach 
hardly offers any greater difficulties of articulation than 
those that have been conquered so successfully and 
even so gleefully by the French of the present day in the 
name Quaker Oats. And even the word wagon, bad as 
it is, if it had followed the EngUsh entirely, would have 
been goods wagon. As a matter of fact it often oblig- 
ingly yields to the less offensive fourgon. And also, if 
M. Viennet had to submit to trucks, he at least escaped 
tracks. It really seems that if he had but thought of the 
appaUing possibiUties of the situation he would have 
seen that he had much to be thankful for. 

We have now treated the following thirty-seven words 
and expressions which were either accepted or considered. 
Those in itahcs have been permanently accepted. 

* French speakers of to-day at least grapple with the English 
termination -ing. Paris papers recently gave notes of instruction 
on the pronunciation of General Pershing's name. 









chariot d' appro visionne- 


chemin de fer 



chemin en fer 


chariot a vapeur 


chemin a ornieres 




chemin a fer 




chemin a locomotive 


place de (d4)chargement 


chemin a vapeur 




chemin k la vapeur 




chemin a rail 




chemin a barres 




route ferr^e (en 

fer, de 







route a ornieres 

(a bar- 







voie ferree 




voie de fer 










galerie souterraine 




galerie votitee 

It seems, perhaps, superfluous to discuss others that 
were not even considered, but there are a few words that 
are conspicuous by their absence from this list. Let us 
take a little time to speculate about them. Allege, for 
instance. Darmesteter spoke of this word as a possi- 
ble candidate for the place now occupied by tender and 
yet it seems not to have been considered at all in point 
of fact. Why not ? Why was such a cumbersome phrase 
as chariot d'approvisionnement at first preferred to such a 
simple, truly French word? Why was a foreign word 
selected eventually? Who can say? Again, the Eng- 
lish tracks was never threatened as a name for rails, but 
this is perhaps accounted for by the existence of the 
similar word trace, which already had a similar duty to 
perform. But we may well wonder why it is that while 
the words barres, barreaux, and bandes were used occa- 


sionally as names for the rails, these good and apparently- 
suitable native words were put aside with but the slight- 
est trial, and the only rival that the word rails ever had 
was the apparently unsuitable ornieres. And while there 
would be nothing gained by the substitution, one may at 
least from curiosity ask why the word locomotive hap- 
pened to be the choice of both English and French 
instead of the similar, equally suitable, and equally com- 
mon word locomobile. 

Here, too, was passed by an opportunity to create the 
word automobile forty or fifty years before it was actually 
created. Who shall explain why this word failed to 
spring up now instead of waiting until the motor car 
had to be named ? Why not chariot automobile now for 
locomotive as well as fiacre automobile later for a motor 
vehicle? It would seem that the one is as fitting as the 
other. In that case we should now be speaking of the 
automobile when talking of the railroad. And what 
should we be calling the automobile? But that is not 
for us to explain. It is, however, curious that there was 
the suggestion of an attempt to introduce a compound 
on the root auto into the railroad terminology. In a 
translation (1834) of an English book by Wood (1832) 
the word automoteurs was actually used. This book 
spoke of plans automoteurs which were used to pull cars 
up an incline by the force of those going down. But the 
possibilities of the term did not please. It was not 
adopted or imitated. Perhaps the element auto- was 
still too prominently merely a part of the word automate 
and still carried too much the suggestion of impracti- 
cabiUty inherent in this word. In any case it was not its 
hour. It did not come. 

But without troubling further with words that were 
not even suggested we see that out of the list of thirty- 
seven words which we have considered, only fifteen (in 


italics) are in use to-day in the railroad vocabulary. 

That leaves twenty-two words and expressions that 
were rejected after trial. These twenty-two were prin- 
cipally the alternatives offered for chemin de fer, of which, 
fourteen in all, one alone, vote ferree, has survived. 

The charge is often made that the railroad vocabulary 
is largely recruited from England. But is it? Of the 
fifteen accepted words that we have considered three 
only are purely EngUsh — rail, tender, wagon. One, 
though somewhat disguised, is really a French word, 
tunnel. The other eleven are French. While locomotive, 
train, and station, of course, came from the English use, 
they were, however, good French words beforehand and 
have nothing English about them except the recommen- 
dation. Spanish is responsible for emharcadere and 
deharcadere, but these were already in use before the 
railroads came and so these latter cannot be charged with 
the importation of these words. 

In reality, most of the words, it must be admitted, are 
truly French in spirit. Chemin de fer we have already 
praised. Such words as locomotive, voiture, gare, croisiere, 
convoi, train, already, in 1825, bore the seal of acceptance 
and belonged to the language. All that was necessary 
was to add to them a new meaning, to extend their 
application to a new field. 

The saddest part of the record we must not, however, 
conceal. The fact is that in the early days the vocabulary 
was purer than it now is. Whatever objectionable ele- 
ments are now in the railroad terminology were not then 
in it. If things had stayed as they were at first, not even 
the three English words that now offend the sensitive 
ear would be in use. Instead of rails we should have 
ornieres, instead of tender, chariot d'approvisionnement, 
and instead of wagon, chariot — if indeed the latter terms 
are preferable. But in these cases the persistence of 


the English word broke down the attempt of the French 
one to assert itself. Even the Anghcized form tunnel 
forced out the more truly French galerie and souterrain. 
In one case only did the language succeed in forestalhng 
a possible Enghsh term that was once even partially 
started in use. It refused siding and selected gare. This 
is its only victory in a real struggle. Everything else 
that is French now was so also in the beginning. 

The place of the canals in the making of the railroad 
vocabulary is an important one. It is true that the 
canals failed to impose the word chariot, which was a 
very common word in their vocabulary. It is true that 
they did not succeed with ornieres, and by this failure 
lost the chance of filling the place now filled by the term 
chemin de fer. But convoi, embarcadere and debarcadere, 
and most important of all, gare, came from them. They 
also gave quai, which has a considerable railroad use. 
Their influence seemed, about 1842, to be increasing. 
For there was at this time a more or less marked fancy of 
substituting the word remorqueur for locomotive. In the 
Illustration we read of ''\e mode de remorquage des con- 
vois par la locomotive." And in the Annuaire historique 
of Lesur, also in 1842, in an article on the Catastrophe 
du chemin de fer de Versailles, we find: "un convoi com- 
pose de quinze wagons ou diligences ayant en tete deux 
remorqueurs, le Matthieu Murray et TEclair"; later: 
"le second remorqueur. ^^ This tendency, however, did 
not survive very long. 

The contribution of the horse and carriage vocabulary 
is also important. If it did not succeed in giving us the 
word chariot it did give us voiture. Station owes at least 
something to the post lines, and the very name chemin 
de Jer includes within itself eloquent testimony of the 
origin from the humble " chemin." 

One fact that must strike us is that in this whole 


vocabulary, even considering the words that were merely 
given a trial, there exists no actual new creation. There 
is no formation similar to automobile, to aeroplane, or to 
the many creations of the Revolutionary vocabulary. 
The railroad words were either taken from the already 
existing vocabulary and by a change of meaning fitted to 
the needs of the occasion, or at most were borrowed from 
English. None were newly constructed. 

And yet, what do I say ? Until recently there has been 
no adjective from chemin de fer. One has been obliged 
to say, for example, ''les questions de chemin de fer." 
But the present is not the age to tolerate such poverty. 
And then, too, the railroad vocabulary should not be 
considered a work that is necessarily finished. Professor 
Wuarens, of Geneva, I am told, has filled this need with 
the SidiectiYe f err oviaire, and we may now say, "les ques- 
tions ferroviaires." Here then is the first neologism 
that has penetrated the railroad vocabulary. What will 
be its fate it is too early to tell. It is not as yet in Larousse. 


The Word-element "Auto-" 

We may set 1875 as the date of the birth of the real 
name of the self -moving vehicle. Let us look first at the 
period of conception or incubation that preceded this date. 
This period extends back over more than a hundred 
years, to about 1770 in fact, when Cugnot made what is 
generally considered to have been the first automobile. 
From this time on we find increasingly frequent experi- 
ments with seK-moving vehicles. By 1835 these ex- 
periments attained success in one line, that of the 
locomotive. This triumph probably turned the minds of 
mechanicians even more strongly towards the question of 
seK-propulsion, and steam carriages and road engines 
of all kinds were multipUed. There was, during all this 
time, considerable groping towards the selection of a 
name suitable for the new idea. 

The newly constructed railroad stepped in ahead and 
made its choice, appropriating the acceptable name 
locomotive. The quick success of this word made popu- 
lar, when there was need for a name for the road vehicle 
that moved of itself, the variant form locomobile. This 
word, we may note, contains as its second part the same 
element as that of the successful name automobile, that 
is the element -mobile. From 1861 on we find this word 
used frequently to describe various new inventions which 
moved of their own power but not on rails. 

Why is it that this term was not the one finally selected 
to name the self-propelled vehicle ? Is it because it was 



felt to be too evidently imitative of the word locomotive f 
That is possible, but there is a better reason. If we note 
the following series of examples of the use of the word 
locomobile, we shall see that by a gradual process it came 
to suggest, though by no real reason of form or etymology, 
a certain type of machine that was not at all the type 
now named by the word automobile. In other words the 
term locomobile was sidetracked by an inevitable though 
unconscious process of development. 

In 1861 (Oct. 26) the Illustration used the word loco^ 
mobile in describing a machine which it called ''nou- 
velle pompe locomobile a vapeur." In this case we may 
see by the accompanying cut that the word locomobile 
was intended to convey the idea of ''movable but not 
by its own power," since this engine had to be drawn by 
horses. Again, in 1863 (June 20), the Illustration pic- 
tured a ''scie locomobile." Here too the word merely 
indicates, as is evident from the picture, that the appara- 
tus can be moved by horse power. This is evidently a 
different idea from the one we are trying to follow. 

Again, in 1866, the word appears in the Illustration 
in an article with a picture of a stationary engine 
called ''machine a vapeur verticale ou locomobile in- 

In 1868, in the Annee scientifique et industrielle, Louis 
Figuier describes what was without doubt an early experi- 
ment with the automobile. "Le 23 mai, 1868," he says, 
^'un certain nombre de journalistes ont ete con vies par 
M. de Vincent a faire une promenade." The accompany- 
ing picture shows them in a sort of chariot pulled by a 
heavy machine like a locomotive or a steam roller but 
which we must admit nevertheless was an attempt at an 
automobile. How does the author refer to it ? It is not, 
perhaps, unnatural, since it is so much like a locomotive, 
that he should call it a "locomotive routiere." It is quite 


clear that the idea he has in mind is that of a self-pro- 
pelled vehicle that is independent of rails and that can 
be used for transporting passengers, — that is, in a 
word, an automobile. For he says: "Du moment ou 
Ton en revient a Femploi d'un rail on rentre dans le sys- 
teme de nos voies ferrees et il n'y a plus de veritable loco- 
mobile routiere" [the itahcs are his]. Thus, in speaking 
of this machine, he uses both words, locomobile and 

The tendency to take over bodily the word locomotive 
was perhaps not unnatural, because so frequently the 
point of departure of the experiment was the locomotive 
which ran on rails. We see this again in 1868 in Opper- 
mann's Portefeuille des machines de Voutillage et du ma- 
teriel, where we find an article entitled ''Etude sur les 
locomotives routieres.'' In this article we see the restric- 
tion of the word, for most of the plates show traction 
engines and heavy work machines. And if there is need 
to refer to a machine which is altogether for passengers 
(such, for instance, as Cugnot's machine), the word 
locomotive is avoided and voiture a vapeur or a similar 
term used instead. 

In 1871 we find the word mobile used in Oppermann's 
Portefeuille. This time it refers to a machine to be used 
in drawing plows and other farm implements. The 
name given is "machine a vapeur mobile." The same 
discrimination is evident as early as 1865 in pictures of 
that date reproduced in P. Souvestre's Histoire de V auto- 
mobile. In connection with all these pictures the terms 
machine locomobile and locomotive routiere are used, but 
invariably of heavy engines and steam rollers. 

And yet there are also instances, even as late as in 
1873, showing that the word locomobile had not been 
irrevocably consecrated to the work engine. Souvestre, 
quoting original documents, says: ''Le 26 mars, 1873, 


Amadee BoUee avait soUicite du prefet de la Sarthe 
Fautorisation de 'faire circuler dans le departement une 
voiture locomobile destinee au transport des voyageurs 
et des marchandises.' " ^ From this we see that it is pos- 
sible to use the word locomobile of a passenger vehicle. 
Likewise, in a report made to the Academie des Sciences, 
Nov. 2, 1875, on a ''nouvelle voiture a vapeur," we find 
the same thing. For this vehicle can scarcely have been 
a road engine since it is a voiture. Yet, though it is gener- 
ally referred to as ''la machine," it is at least once called 
''la locomotive.'' 

But, on the other hand, the Illustration, in 1875 (Feb. 
19), in an article entitled "Locomobile Ransomes,'' 
describes and pictures a farming engine for threshing. 
This article furnishes evidence that the word locomobile 
had at that time a special meaning, though just what 
it was is not altogether clear; speaking of a sort of road 
engine called a "locomotive routiere," it says, "la ma- 
chine a la forme d'une locomobile?^ 

As time went on the restriction of meaning of the 
word locomobile became more and more rigorous, and it 
became less usual to apply it to anything but a work 
machine. Yet there is nothing about the word to pre- 
vent its being applied to what we now speak of as the 
automobile. In fact locomobile is the name of a very 
elegant American motor car. But such was the chance 
development of the word. It seemed to be needed for 
this other purpose, and so it was requisitioned. And 
once so requisitioned it was of course no longer available 
for the other use. By 1880 the differentiation had be- 
come so clear that L. Figuier, in Les grandes inventions 
modernes, says definitely: 

"On donne le nom de locomobile, ou de machine a vapeur 
locomobile a une machine a vapeur qui se transporte elle- 
1 Souvestre, p. 127. 


meme d'un point a un autre, pour y executer sur place dif- 
f^rents travaux mecaniques. On I'a applique particuliere- 
ment jusqu'ici aux travaux reclames par I'agriculture: c'est 
ce qui lui fait donner quelquefois le nom de machine a va- 
peur agricole. Le role de ces machines se borne encore au 
battage des grains et a la confection des tuyaux de drainage'' 
(pp. 294-5). 

This would seem pretty definite assurance that the 
word locomobile cannot be used as the name of the new 
vehicle for which we are seeking a name. Yet only a 
few pages further on Figuier violates his own clearly 
stated principle by calhng the automobile of Bollee, 
which, as we have seen, had nothing of the work engine 
about it, a locomobile routiere. And this not only once 
but six times. Possibly he is giving BoUee's usage as 
we have seen it to be (p. 37). 

Still we are forced to feel, in spite of occasional 
examples to the contrary, that by following the de- 
velopment of the use of the word locomobile, promis- 
ing as the word may have seemed in the beginning, 
we have not arrived at the real name of the self-pro- 
pelling vehicle. The trail has led us away from our 

If we had followed a certain other track our quest 
would still have been unsuccessful. As lately as 1875 it 
might have seemed safe to predict that the new vehicle 
with which experiments were being made would be 
named voiture a vapeur or something similar. We see 
now that such a prediction would not have been realized. 
(We may also remember the time when we should have 
said that horseless carriage would be the English desig- 
nation.) Let us, however, trace the development of 
the form voiture a vapeur. Perhaps we shall find the 
reason for its rejection. 


This type of name made its appearance at the very- 
outset, long before the cropping up of the term locomobile ; 
and it continued to be much the most vigorous rival 
candidate up to the time of the final acceptance of the 
name automobile. In speaking of the first automobile, 
that of Cugnot, M. Gribeauval, in a letter addressed in 
1771 to the Marquis de Monteynard (quoted by P. 
Souvestre, Vhistoire de V automobile) , uses the words: 
''pour vous rendre compte de Tetat de la voiture a feu 
de M. Cugnot." Of the same type is a designation found 
in Bachaumont's Memoires (1770, quoted by P. Sou- 
vestre): ''On a parle d'une machine a feu pour trans- 
porter des voitures." The word feu, however, as used 
in these two designations, was hardly scientific enough, 
and the word vapeur was soon substituted. We read 
(Souvestre) of the chariot a vapeur of Onesiphore Pec- 
queur (1828); of the remorqueur a vapeur of Ch. Dietz 
(1834); and in 1835 the Chevalier d'Asda made, we are 
told, a voiture a vapeur. In 1837 La Mosaique, an illus- 
trated family magazine, continued the use of this type 
of terminology. The title of an article (p. 324) on the 
new invention and the legend under the picture both 
read, "Une diligence a vapeur." The writer of this 
article does not differentiate very clearly between locomo- 
tives and the new machines, for he calls the former 
voitures a vapeur and soon after says, "en faisant marcher 
des voitures a vapeur sur les routes ordinaires." Other 
quotations are: "Deux raisons firent preferer le vehicule 
a vapeur aux chevaux"; "les roues de la voiture a vapeur. ^^ 
When the motive power is in a separate conveyance 
which draws the wagon after it, it is called "le chariot 
remorqueur." A general reference to the whole com- 
bination appears in the following terms: "La machine 
parcourait ce trajet quatre fois par jour." This author, 
we see, did not make use of the name locomobile at 


all, and he gave no hint of a name formed with the 
element auto-.^ 

In 1875 ^ the forms voiture a vapeur and venture locomo- 
bile are still popular. When Amadee BoUee asked per- 
mission to drive his new machine, he spoke of it as a 
voiture locomobile. The permission was granted in the 
following terms (Souvestre, p. 128, gives it in facsimile) : 
'"Monsieur: vous m'avez demande Fautorisation de faire 
circuler une voiture a vapeur dans les departements de 
I'Orme. . . .'' There is probably no significance in this 
variation of the name from voiture locomobile to voiture 
a vapeur, for Bollee himself, speaking to his chief engi- 
neer, uses voiture a vapeur. Le Figaro (17 Oct. 1875), 
describing Bollee's trip, used the term voiture a vapeur 
three times and the simple word voiture twice. And in 
in the same year the Academie des Sciences heard a report 
on a ''nouvelle voiture a vapeur." Even at this late 
date, the very year of the appearance of the word auto- 
mobile, this report refers to ''cette machine" as "la, 

It was in 1875, then, that the word which was destined 

2 Vapeur continues to be a word popular for forming names of 
aU sorts. In 1867 the Illustration gives an account of the ^'canot 
a vapeur du roi de Portugal." In 1874 (June 13) we find references 
to canots a vapeur and yachts a vapeur. Later, when the more scien- 
tific form automobile is substituted for the simpler voiture a vapeur, 
we find the canot a vapeur, called more learnedly (by Alphonse 
Brown in La Conquete de Fair, 1875) pyroscaphe. 

3 We may be disappointed that there seems to be such a dearth 
of references to the automobile during the '40's and '50's. The 
following remark from L. Figuier's Les Grandes Inventions modernes, 
1880, may explain it: "L'insucces de toutes les tentatives avait 
fait abandonner I'idee des locomotives routieres, lorsque le specta- 
cle des compresseurs du macadam mus par la vapeur qui se d6pla- 
yaient a I'int^rieur des villes sans effrayer les chevaux ramena, 
vers 1860, Tattention sur ce genre de vehicule oublie depuis trente 


all unsuspected to win the final triumph appeared. But 
just as we have seen that the word locomobile long con- 
tinued to dispute the field with the new word, so we find 
also that the form voiture a vapeur was for some time 
a rival. In 1876 (May 27), for example, although at 
this date the Illustration and Le Technologiste and Opper- 
mann's Portefeuille had all used the new word automobile, 
yet Le Monde Illustre had an article on the new inven- 
tion in the column "Courrier de Paris" in which it did 
not use the new word at all, but called the new machine 
voiture a vapeur and omnibus a vapeur. Whether this 
was from intentional conservatism or not it would be 
hard to tell. 

Even as late as 1880, that is to say five years after this, 
L. Figuier, in his work Les grandes inventions modernes, 
after defining a locomobile as a work engine, used for 
the passenger machine not voiture automobile but voiture a 
vapeur. For instance, he says (p. 301): ^'11 etait naturel 
de songer a apphquer a la locomotion sur les routes ce 
meme appareil (the locomotive), allege et modifie. C'est 
ce qui a ete fait par la construction de nouvelles voitures 
a vapeur '^ [the italics are his]. Again he says: ''Paris 
s'occupa beaucoup d'une diligence a vapeur qui parcourut 
a plusieurs reprises la route de Paris a Versailles." This 
form of name persisted for some time, but like locomobile 
it was not destined to be the received term. The reason 
for its rejection is not, I think, any fault of its form. 
It is true that it is rather long, and when abbreviated it 
would doubtless have taken the form of vapeur, which 
was probably already apphed to steamboats. But the 
real reason for its lack of success is rather that, as experi- 
ments proceeded, steam became a less cormnon power 
than petrol. Then the name, when desired in this form, 
was varied to voiture a petrole. But this caused too great 
diversity. It would be more convenient to have a more 


general term, one that would apply to the machine no 
matter what its propelUng power. It would seem that 
the word locomobile would have been a very good one, 
though perhaps there would have been some hesitancy 
in referring, with two such similar terms, to both the 
locomotive and the locomobile. It is true that the word 
locomobile is at present used, as we have seen, to name a 
kind of road engine, and there is no confusion. But in 
this use it is much less common than the word we are 
looking for would have to be. In any case the word was 
already consecrated to this other use and was not avail- 
able to fill the need now arising. 

Another adjective that was tried was mobile, which 
might possibly have done. But it is a question whether 
this would have made as good a name as automobile 
when the noun voiture was dropped, as was probably 
almost inevitable. Then we should have found ourselves 
saying ''une mobile." We do find this word used some- 
what. In 1871, in Oppermann's Portefeuille, we find an 
engine that could be used for plowing called machine a 
vapeur mobile. In the Bulletin of the Exposition of 1889, 
Revue technique, we find the following: '^Les applica- 
tions de la chaudiere DeDion Bouton sont assez nom- 
breux. Viennent les appareils mobiles tels que tramways 
a vapeur, voitures automobiles, locomobiles a lumiere 
electrique a Tusage de Tarmee, locomobiles pour exploita- 
tions agricoles." Here the word mobile is used to name 
the whole class and is very general. While it is easy to 
think of its having such a development as to take the 
place that the word automobile has taken, yet the fact 
is that it did not, for what reason we cannot say. 

Neither did the word mecanique, though this was 
for a time one of the most vigorous rivals for the posi- 
tion. The following examples will show how this word 


was in use. In La Revue de Paris for 1898 we read that 
in 1891 ''on commen9a la vente reguliere des vehicules 
mecaniqueSy^ which at first were mostly "voitures a 
vapeur/' but by 1894 were largely ''voitures a petrole.'* 
In the Illustration (Aug. 25, 1894) we find ''voiture a 
traction mecanique, voiture a propulsion mecanique." 
But this word mecanique hardly offered itself for satis- 
factory abbreviation. Possibly it was already too well 
known as an adjective for people to be willing to speak 
of ''une mecanique." Possibly it was felt that it must 
be left free for unrestricted general use and that it was 
too much pubhc property to be limited to this special 

These words we have been considering are old words, 
but a newly created word would have one advantage 
over words already known and used. When any new 
object is introduced, either a new word must be imported 
with it or created, or an old word must be charged with 
a new meaning. The latter act is often more trouble 
than the former. 

"II y a la," says Darmesteter {Creation actuelle, p. 33), 
**un effort intellectuel inutile, et comma I'esprit d'instinct 
va droit au plus simple, comma la nature cherche a d^penser 
un minimum d'effort, le peuple trouve plus facile d'appren- 
dre un mot inconnu avec I'objet nouveau dont il est le nom 
precis . . . que d'aj outer a un mot connu et de comprehen- 
sion deja large une signification nouvelle." 

With a totally new word greater liberties could be 
taken. There would be no hampering connotations, no 
undesired suggestions. There would be no feelings to 
be violated, no usages to be altered. The popular intel- 
ligence, of course, made no speculations of this sort. 
But it was not at all loath to experimenting with totally 


new words while tolerating as temporary terms these 
old words we have been considering. Already as early 
as 1828 Onesiphore Pecqueur with magnificent daring 
had not hesitated to name his '' chariot a vapeur" a 
^'voiture pyrohallistique." It was too daring a flight; it 
did not succeed, and so we do not now ride in our pyro. 
But this was an attempt in the right direction. Again, 
in 1835, in La lanterne magique, in speaking of "un omni- 
bus monstre remorque par la vapeur," an author, under 
obvious inspiration from the name of another popular 
vehicle of locomotion, offers the name velocifere — "la 
fabrication de ces enormes velociferes." But this name 
was no more successful than pyrohallistique, and we do 
not now ride in our velo. And yet this was the type of 
name that was to be chosen. 

But for some reason, by some widespread if unreasoned 
feeling, as the time approached when it became impera- 
tive to have a name that would cover the voiture a 
vapeur, voiture a petrole, and voiture electrique; and as 
the terms voiture locomobile and voiture mecanique had 
become, as we have seen, unsatisfactory, and the word 
locomotive was already claimed, — at this time, for some 
reason or other, there seems to come about a concentra- 
tion of interest on the word-element auto-. By what fate 
popular interest fixed at just this time upon this element 
so long neglected, who shall say ? Enough that gradually 
and unconsciously, from many quarters, popular atten- 
tion and favor seemed to be centering at this period on 
this word-element as one that might be useful in an 
age of marvelous mechanical apparatus.* Let us con- 

* For the spirit of an epoch thus to concentrate itself in a word 
or a prefix, which then becomes of very wide popularity, is not an 
unknown phenomenon. Joseph Conrad notes it in Chance, p. 76: 
"You know the power of words. We pass through periods domi- 


sider for a moment the past history and present con- 
dition of the word-element auto-. 

nated by this or that word — it may be development, or it may be 
competition, or education, or purity, or efficiency, or even sanctity. 
It is the word of the time. Well just then it was the word Thrift 
which was out in the streets walking arm in arm with righteousness, 
the inseparable companion and backer-up of all such national catch- 

Only recently we have witnessed such a prevalence of the prefix 
super, which seems to have caught the fancy of the moment. For 
some time we have had not only super-men but also swper-heated 
steam and have seen results super-induced. Now the New York 
Times, in a report of a cabinet meeting (Feb. 4, 1917), says: "The 
view was general that a swper-crisis had been reached." Punch 
advertises a super-desk. We see on the screen announcements of 
super-de-luxe films, super-serials, and super-pictures. An adver- 
tisement (Mar. 1917) reads: "Fashion's mandates are always fol- 
lowed — often anticipated, occasionally first conceived in this 
spacious yet dainty super-shop." 5uper-dreadnaughts and super- 
submarines — the latter a really curious combination if thought of 
from the etymological point of view, — are frequently mentioned. A 
letter in the New York Times (Nov. 7, 1916) contains this sentence: 
"Should not this hour of super-noble aspirations call for searching 
self-criticism?" The New York World speaks (Mar. 7, 1917) of 
the "George Haven Putnam type of super-patriots." The Carlton 
Mansions are advertised as a super-residence. We read of a "super- 
national organization"; of Germany "triumphant, super-armed"; 
of "super-rehgious ecstasies"; "super-grateful testimonials"; 
"super-resistance"; "super-egotism"; "super-optimism"; "super- 
strong cigars." The official who is to have charge of all the 
purchasing for the Allies "would be the world's super-buyer." 
Ambassador Gerard, in My Four Years in Germany, says: "Those 
in high authority in Germany . . . preferred to listen to persons who 
posed as amateur super-ambassadors." A story in the Saturday 
Evening Post speaks of "the blustering super-manager." We hear 
of super-purists and we see advertised Super-oxide Soap, Spencer 
Super-Standard Heaters, and Superlustre Auto PoKsh. The " Auto- 
biography of a Super-Tramp " has recently appeared. The New 
York Times (Oct. 7, 1917) had an article on super-golf. The North 
American Review (May, 1918), speaks of "the President's super- 


If any one were asked to make a list of those word- 
elements ^ most active as vital forces in forming French 
words at the present time, I doubt whether he would 
feel justified in omitting the element auto-. Of all the 
regular contributors to the Larousse Mensuel auto is 
rivaled as a word-germ by but very few prefixes and 
sufiixes. -Isme and -iste, possibly anti-, are close rivals, 
but we feel auto- as a veritable power. The auto- com- 
pounds in Larousse number 88; the first supplement 
adds 15; second supplement adds 18; third supplement 
adds 1. This makes a total of 122. It is true that its 
force seems at last somewhat spent, but this is because 
there are no more worlds to conquer. And 122 is an 
impressive total. 

serviceable champions." A sentence in the New York Times (May 
17, 1918), reads: " If mankind is gradually to draw nearer to such 
a swper-terrestrial goal . . ." Headlines such as the following are 
frequent: *' French Cannon Pounding German Super-guns," " Navy 
Has Plan of Super-gan," " Burbank Finds Super-Wheat," " Labor 
must Super-OTganize," "Super-Heroes Win Crosses." 

The same thing has been noted in French, by G. Gaillard who 
speaks of "la predominance ... d'un nombre considerable [de 
mots] dans la composition desquels entrent des prefixes indiquant 
I'exces, le rencherissement . . . sur-animal, surcomplet, sur- 
chretien, sur-estimation, surhomme, sur-monde, surnational, sur- 
pousse, super-allemand, super-moral, supra-europeen, supra-national, 
supra-personnel." Revue de xxv, pp. 9 and 102. (1911.) 

^ What term to use in speaking of the constituent elements 
auto-, aero-, etc., as entering into compounds has been a somewhat 
perplexing question. The Petit Larousse and Littre's dictionary 
call auto- in such use a "prefixe." But that scarcely seems an 
appropriate designation. The Standard, Webster's New Interna- 
tional, and the New English dictionaries all use the term "combin- 
ing form." The Century dictionary uses the expression " element 
in compound words," and the New English dictionary speaks of 
auto- as a "hving element." In a contribution by Professor H. A. 
Todd on the word "aeroplane" in the New York Sun I find the term 
"word-element," and this seems the best adapted to our purpose. 


If, however, somebody in 1850, let us say, had been 
asked to draw up a Hst of word-elements most active 
in the formation of words at that time, I doubt whether 
he would have included auto-, even if he had extended 
his Ust to a large number. Auto- at this time was simply 
not among the Hving. The dictionary of the Academy 
for the year 1835 gives nine compounds of auto-. La- 
veaux, in 1843, gives 16. Compared with Larousse's list 
these lists are very small. Even the 52 given by Bes- 
cherelle (1846) and 54 (1851) are less than half the pres- 
ent Hst.® 

Before the rise to popularity that we are observing, 
the auto- compounds that one could consider in general 
use are the following: ^ autobiographie, autohiographique, 
autocrate, autocratie, autocratique, autographe, autographic, 
autographier, automate (pronounced afto-), automatique, 
automatiser (but not found, however, even in Acad. 1884). 
These eleven words, then, were the only ones that had 
anything like a general use before 1850, and even these 
were not by any means among the most used of words. 

As we look further back we find that before this, as 
recorded in the Dictionnaire de VAcademie, 1835, the group 
auto- consisted of the following nine words: autocephale, 
autochthone, autocrate, autocratie, autographe, automate, 
automatique, autonomic, autopsie (e.g., vision intuitive). 
Most of these cannot have been very common. 

Going back to the Latin we find that the word-ele- 
ment auto- enjoyed no special popularity there either. 
The Romans did, it is true, possess a utensil which 
Cicero called an authepsa — self -boiler, probably the 
remote ancestor of the percolator. The Romans also 

^ Although Bescherelle's list consists of fifty-two words, most of 
them are unusual scientific or technical terms. Only the eleven 
noted below as common can have been much used by the people. 

^ Selected from Bescherelle's dictionary, 1846. 


used the words autographus and automaton or automatum. 
They had the adjective automarius. But except for 
certain proper names, Automedon, Autolychus, etc., 
in which auto- had probably no independent force, these 
three or four words that we have mentioned were the 
only ones made with the element auto- that were current 
in Latin. When we look at Greek, however, the situa- 
tion is just the opposite. In Liddell and Scott almost 
five large pages are given over to auto- compounds.^ 

This, then, is the situation — a word-forming element 
extremely popular in Greek falls into comparative 
desuetude in Latin. In this state it lies, to all appear- 
ances the petrified form of a once lively entity, for the 
hundreds of years from the time of the decline of Greek, 
through the time of the prevalence of Latin as a spoken 
language, and through the time of the modern languages, 
until now, in the latter years of the nineteenth century, 
under our very eyes, or perhaps better in our very mouths, 
it has sprung to a vigor of hfe that has almost rivaled its 
original condition. And the end is not yet. 

During the long interval from its Greek vogue to that 
of which we are the privileged witnesses the element auto- 

8 It is strange how completely lacking Latin is in compounds of 
this type, whether borrowed or home-made. For so obviously neces- 
sary a designation as that of one who commits suicide, speakers of 
Latin, possibly from feeHngs of delicacy, resorted to cumbersome 
periphrases, e.g., qui sihi mortem consciscit, and for the act itself, to 
mors voluntaria, etc., leaving for later generations the making of the 
word suicide out of materials that nevertheless lay ready to their 
hand. When it was desired to render a Greek word containing the 
element avro-, ips- was the equivalent used. The Gloss. Philoxeni, 
for example, renders avToirrvKTa </)uXXa by ipsiplices ; and the 
word ipsullices was used by Festus with the meaning "bracteae 
[i.e., 'thin plates of metal'] in virilem muliebremque speciem ex- 
pressae." But these are unusual. Ordinarily Latin neither borrowed 
from the very numerous Greek auro-compounds nor imitated them 
by the use of ips-. 


was not dead as it might have appeared. It was merely 
in an age-long pupa stage. In what word was the 
mighty germ sleeping while awaiting the time to emerge 
from its chrysalis? Perhaps we may say that it was in 
the word automaton — automate. 

The lUad refers to the automatic gates of Olympus. 
It also calls the tripods of Hephsestos automatic. In 
Latin we find Suetonius used the same word. During the 
Middle Ages and modern times the word automate was 
the most convenient word to designate the moving ducks, 
the chess players, the iron flies, the bronze eagles that 
appeared from time to time to mystify the pubhc. It 
was consequently retained as a pensioner of the vocabu- 
lary to occupy this sinecure position and serve as occa- 
sion offered in this unimportant capacity. It represented 
to the popular and to the scientific mind the very quintes- 
sence of the idea of self-motion. It was always revived 
as a matter of course when any new need arose. It stood 
always ready to name a certain type of invention. And 
most naturally, almost automatically so to speak, it must 
have occurred to mind when the question came up of 
naming the greatest of all the automata — that now 
called the automobile. The word automate itself, however, 
was too much encrusted with the connotation of triviahty 
and unsuccess, of impracticabihty, to be satisfactory as 
the name to be chosen by the new era for this most 
efficient of products. There was no possibihty of the 
automobile being called an automate — even ''the" 
automate par excellence. But the word bore within it 
the germ; it contained what was recognized as the one 
correct term, and it gave its vital part to be the progeni- 
tor of the new family. 

The popular attention kept flitting to this word-ele- 
ment auto-. As early as 1801 Mercier, in his Neologie 


had mentioned the word automalite.^ It is rather strange 
that the railroads did not evoke this element to Hfe in 
1830. The same root (mo) that was finally selected for 
the second part of the word automobile was used at the 
time of the introduction of the railroads and came to 
occupy an important place in the word locomotive. It 
was also tried in other forms. In Baader's treatise, for 
example, we find mention of la force motrice and once 
we find plans automoteurs as the name of moving planes 
intended to carry cars up an incline. This latter was 
indeed a strangely accurate prophecy, but it was appar- 
ently in advance of the proper moment, and the word did 
not obtain a circulation. And although in 1830 at the hand 
of the railroads there was apparently the same opportunity 
for the creation of the word automobile that there was 
later, it was not created. Locomotive was used instead. 

As time goes on we see the popular interest more and 
more focused on the word-element auto-. In 1868 the 
word automotrice is seen. M. Cazal used it to describe 
an electric sewing machine which he called ''couseuse 
automotrice" {Uannee scientifique et industrielle, 1868). 
In 1874, in Oppermann's Portefeuille, we find a descrip- 
tion of a ''sifflet automoteur pour locomotives." In the 
Illustration, Nov. 20, 1875, "les tramways automoteurs'^ 
are spoken of. The word automatique also becomes 
popular in describing inventions. In Le Technologiste 
for 1874 and 1875 we find inventions fisted as "appareil 

^ The quotation from Mercier is: 

Automalite: Depuis quelque temps, on a perfectionne en partie 
les decorations de nos theatres. Quand le drame s'accomplit dans 
Tinterieur d'un temple, d'un palais, on voit des colonnades border 
et masquer les coulisses. II reste a corriger la mobilite du pla- 
fond, que Fair agite, I'ignobilite des pretres, V Automalite des gardes, 
etc. (Retif.) — L. S. Mercier. Neologie, ou Vocahulaire de mots 
nouveaux, a renouveler, ou pris dans des acceptions nouvelles. Paris, 
Moussard, 1801. 


automatique pour enregistrer les voyageurs/' "compteur 
automatique pour voitures," "la detente variable auto- 
matique, '^ ^'conducteur a compensation automatique.' ' 
In Oppermann's Portefeuille for 1875 we find a mechanism 
for transmitting power by different gears called a ^'con- 
ducteur autonome epicloidal." By all these indications 
we see that there is a certain activity in this word-ele- 
ment auto- at just this time. The adjective automatique 
is now in existence and much in use. Another adjective, 
automoteur, automotrice, has been newly made. It would 
seem that these might fill the new need. But no, still 
a third word seems to be necessary. 

The first appearance of the word automobile recorded 
by Littre (Suppl. 1877) is in the Journal des Dehats for 
March 30, 1876, feuilleton 1, page 1, col. 1, where "la 
voiture a air comprime qu'on voit fonctionner sur le 
tramway de TArc de Triomphe a Neuilly" was called 
by H. de Parville "une voiture automobile." I found, 
however, four earlier instances of the use of the word. 
The first is in Oppermann's Portefeuille, September, 1875; 
the second in the Illustration, Nov. 20, 1875; and the third 
and fourth in Le Technologiste, March 18, 1876, Pt. I, 
pp. 165 and 381. The quotations are as follows: 1. Op- 
permann: A short article with title ''Voitures automobiles 
a air comprime." The word automobile appears only 
this once. In the article the object is referred to always 
as ''la machine." 2. The Illustration: An article on 
tramways, with title ''Chemins de fer americains," says: 
''les essais de voitures automobiles pour tramways . . . 
voiture automobile a air comprime." Sometimes auto- 
moteur is used instead of automobile. 3. Le Technologiste 
has an article of eight pages, with three plates, entitled 
"Voiture automobile a air comprime." It says: "Depuis 
bientot trois mois la compagnie des tramways Nord 


experimente sur la ligne de Courbevoie a I'Arc de Triomphe 
de I'Etoile un nouveau systeme de voiture automobile dans 
lequel la force motrice est Fair comprime. . . . Cette 
voiture automatique appartient au type ... en adoptant 
le systeme automobile . . . deux pistons actionnes par une 
locomobile (locomobile here must mean some part of the 
engine, contrary to what we have seen is its usual mean- 
ing). . . . Les experiences faites sur la voiture automatique 
de M. Mekarski. . . . Ces inconvenients n 'existent pas 
dans la voiture automobile qui nous occupe." In this 
article the word automobile is very well established, al- 
though its field is somewhat disputed by the rival auto- 
matique. Of course there is as yet no thought of calling 
the vehicle ''une automobile." The word is still only 
an adjective, and the ordinary substantive reference is 
by the word voiture. 4. Le Technologiste further on in 
the same number, in an article entitled ''Chaudieres et 
machines motrices," says: /'Une troisieme machine con- 
stituant comme la machine a air comprime une voiture 
automobile ... k Verviers (Belgique)." The word is 
used twice in this article. 

Littre brands the newcomer as a "mot hybride." But 
the young Hercules either disdained what some might 
feel to be the scorn implied in this epithet or felt that 
rather was it a compliment to be thus placed in a noble 
company comprising such honorable members as bicy- 
clette and several of the kilo- family. With a certain 
headstrong perversity the word-element auto- has seemed 
to thrive upon the opposition made to it and to gain force 
from reproaches of etymological malformation and has 
even produced as if mahciously a throng of hybrid off- 
spring. For the most obvious remark about the word 
automobile is that whereas the element auto- is Greek 
the element -mobile is of Latin origin, and that there- 
fore the formation is faulty. 


Strangely enough a good form completely Greek was 
ready to hand, but was not used. Galen used the com- 
pound autodromos, which would seem to be just the word 
needed. Why did not those who favored the hybrid 
automobile devote their energies to promoting the use of 
this word against which no charge of irregular formation 
could have been brought? It may be that the element 
-drome, from constant association in the famiUar word 
hippodrome, had acquired in the popular mind the mean- 
ing of ''a place where," which would have been an imme- 
diate difficulty in the way of accepting such a word. 
The subsequent development of the suffix in the later 
aerodrome as ''a place for aviation" rather than as "a 
machine which runs in the air", and velodrome seems to 
bear out this idea and indicate that the popular feehng 
about the suffix was as we have said. 

If, on the other hand, instead of trying to have both 
elements Greek, we attempt to match the Latin part, 
-mobile, and change the part auto- into Latin we shall 
find ourselves with the form ipsmobile. This has a 
strange look. It is hard to believe that it would ever 
have been accepted. It is not in the spirit of Latin com- 
pounds, though there is in Latin the word ipsiplices. 
(See Note 7.) But in general Latin did not as we have 
seen use this type of compound. 

And after all we may feel that hybrids are not abso- 
lutely to be considered outcasts. We have already men- 
tioned the word bicyclette, which has served long and 
honorably in spite of being not only a hybrid but, if we 
may be allowed the expression, a tribrid. Also some of 
the words of the metric system will be seen not to be 
impeded in their duties by reason of being words of this 
type. Even the word aeroplane may prove to be not 
perfect in this respect. The element auto- had even 
before the time of the automobile begun to allow itself 


to be used thus for illegitimate word formation. Among 
the auto- compounds that we mentioned (p. 48) as 
being in use before 1850, while most are of pure Greek 
formation, there is one, autoclave, which has already- 
started the much criticized manner of formation. Conse- 
quently we cannot lay this sin to the automobile. 

Although we may date the word automobile as of 1875, 
we shaU not find it coming into very general use imme- 
diately after that date. In fact it is not until nearly 
fifteen years later that it seems to be used freely and 
unhesitatingly. Until that time it appears but sporadi- 
cally in the vocabulary. In 1877 (Aug. 11), for example, 
Le Technologiste has an article entitled ^'Voiture auto- 
mobile a vapeur du tramway de Lausanne a Echallens." 
The illustration shows a sort of long trolley car on rails 
with an engine in one end of it. "La voiture et la ma- 
chine sont portees sur le meme true et sont solidaires,'' 
the article says. The name voiture automobile appears 
three times. 

But almost at the same time (July 28), in the same 
magazine, is the description of a similar engine for tram- 
ways, where apparently the same sort of occasion to use 
the word is offered and the word is not used. The author 
speaks of this engine as a '^ machine a vapeur pour la 
traction des tramways" or as the ^^moteur mecanique" 
or "un moteur" or "\a machine," but never uses the 
word automobile. Again (Aug. 25) another article in 
the same magazine on ''Les machines locomotives (it 
does not say automobiles) pour les tramways de Berlin" 
passes over numerous occasions to use the new word. 

In 1879 we find reference to a "berceuse automotrice'^ 
as though the word automobile was not quite certainly 
known or had not been accepted as a satisfactory 


All this time busy and increasingly successful experi- 
ments with the new vehicles were being made. There 
must have been continual need to speak of them. By 

1889 in the Bulletin of the Exposition, Revue technique 
6, the word is frankly used: ''Les applications de la 
chaudiere DeDion Bouton sont assez nombreuses. Vien- 
nent les appareils mobiles tels que tramways a vapeur, 
voitures automobiles, locomobiles a lumiere electrique a 
I'usage de Farmee, locomobiles pour exploitations agri- 
coles.'^ In this article the word is used twice. But this 
review, like Le Technologiste, is a technical journal. It 
will hardly give us popular usage. If we turn to the Illus- 
tration we may find better how the lay vocabulary, which, 
after all, is our real interest, referred to the newly made 

It is somewhat surprising to find that it is not until 

1890 that we again find the subject taken up in the Illus- 
tration. There was, as we remember, the first appear- 
ance of the word in 1875 (p. 52). Then the next year 
(Aug. 19, 1876) another article on "Les nouveaux tram- 
ways a vapeur'' with a page illustration, an article in 
which the new word was avoided and the term auto- 
motrice used instead: '' . . * pour adopter la traction des 
machines automotrices.'^ And then there was a long 
silence until Oct. 11, 1890, when in the column '' Cour- 
rier de Paris," signed Rastignac, there is a mention of 
the new invention but without using the word automobile, 
"L'autre jour n'ai-je pas rencontre rue de Rome un cab 
a vapeur ! (Notice that he does not say cab automobile.) 
Un cab que faisait mouvoir une chaudiere placee entre 
les deux roues. Nous verrons quelque matin le cab 
electrique. En attendant, la bicyclette regne." And yet 
the word automobile had not been withdrawn from cir- 
culation. On May 25 of the same year the same maga- 
zine had described "une torpiUe ai^^omo6i7e-dirigeable."' 


"En 1891/' says G. Desjacques in an article called 
"Automobilisme" in La Revue de Paris, 1898, p. 208, 
"en 1891 on commenga la vente reguliere de vehicules 
mecaniques." At first they were mostly, he says, "voi- 
tures a vapeur," but by 1894 there were many "voitures 
a petrole." Our interest in this quotation is less in its 
terminology (it is of pretty late date, 1898) than in the 
fact it records, namely that the automobile business be- 
came a regular thing in 1891. From that date, then, we 
ought to expect to see interesting and significant de- 
velopments in the terminology of the subject. In 1893 
(Nov. 18), two years later that is, we find the Illustration 
not using the word automobile, but saying: "Des fiacres 
electriques viennent d'etre inaugures a Berlin. Ce sont des 
voitures a trois roues, dont la vitesse est, parait-il, supe- 
rieure a celle des fiacres a chevaux." Thus, in 1893, seven- 
teen years after the first use mentioned in Littre, the 
word automobile does not appear. 

In 1894 (July 28) the Illustration has an article of 
great importance for us. It is an article of two pages 
with illustrations, dealing with an automobile race which 
had just taken place. We see clearly that the science is 
pretty well developed and that it is popular and well 
known. It must have been frequently discussed. Auto- 
mobiles must have been the subject of common conver- 
sation. How were they referred to? Let us examine 
the article. Is the title "Le concours d'automobiles " ? 
No. Is it "Le concours de voitures automobiles?" Not 
even this. It is "Le concours de voitures mecaniques." 
And it goes on to explain the name "voitures meca- 
niques" by adding "ou voitures sans chevaux." Through- 
out the article the term generally used is "voitures 
mecaniques" (nine times). All pictures are labeled "voi- 
ture a vapeur," "voiture a petrole," "voiture de Dion 
et Bouton," etc. Voiture-automobile is found once. 


The rarity at this time of the word automobile even 
as an adjective is interesting. Its complete absence as 
a noun is comprehensible when we read the following 
(from the same article) and see what the usual viewpoint 
was: "Ce n'est pas une locomotive routiere que Ton 
demande, ce n'est pas une diUgence de Tancien modele 
avec sa force motrice dissimulee. Le but a atteindre 
c'est la voiture sans cheval susceptible de recevoir comme 
dans un brancard, et sans que les voyageurs s'en doutent, 
le cheval mecanique a vapeur ou a petrole qu'il conviendra 
y atteler." It is quite evident from this quotation that 
this author at least had not yet arrived at a way of think- 
ing of the new invention so that he would be ready to 
use the word automobile as a noun. The object was to 
him still a voiture, even if a voiture somewhat altered and 
improved. And this, we remember, is about eighteen 
years after the first appearance of the new word. 

Again in 1894 (Aug. 25) an article in the Illustration 
speaks of a '' voiture a traction mecanique" (once), 
''voiture a vapeur" (six times), ''voiture a propulsion 
mecanique" (once), and uses the word automobile not 
at all. On the 22d of September it says: "Des fiacres 
electriques sont actuellement en circulation a Chicago." 
It does not call them automobiles. On the 29th of Decem- 
ber we find "voiture electrique" used, but not automobile. 

In 1895, however, we find the word automobile tenta- 
tively used. The Illustration (June 22) has an article on 
the Paris-Bordeaux race. And this time it entitles it 
"La course des voitures automobiles Paris-Bordeaux." 
This once is, however, the only time the word appears 
in the article. The four pictures avoid the word by 
means of titles such as ''Voiture No. 15." In the text 
voiture is the word used for referring to the machines. 
Even now the word automobile has only a< precarious 
adjectival existence. 


The same thing is seen in the Journal des Dehats in the 
same year (July 28, 1895) in a short article in which the 
word automobile is used, it is true, but not more heartily 
than in the Illustration. The title of the article is "Voi- 
tures automobiles." But, as in the Illustration, this is 
the only time the word is used. The text begins, *'A1- 
lons-nous avoir des fiacres sans chevaux?" In the course 
of it "fiacre sans chevaux" appears twice, ''fiacre elec- 
trique" once, ''automobile" as an adjective only once 
in the title, and "automobile " as a noun not at all. Other 
references of 1895 are also evidently adjectival, of the 
type of "voiture automobile," "les voitures de ce genre." 

By 1896, however, the word had won its place as a 
noun. It was by this time very powerful, for the deriva- 
tive automohilisme was developed and had become com- 
mon. The Illustration (Sept. 19) has a column entitled 
" L'automobilisme " and (Oct. 31) ''Tindustrie automo- 
bile" is found. It is high time that the noun should 
be evolved. And sure enough it appears. The first 
instance of it so used that I discovered was in the Illus- 
tration, Oct. 31, 1896, as follows: "... combien qui vous 
disent — c'est tres bien, les automobiles, mais c'est trop 
cher." And again: "Les automobiles, quelque impar- 
faites qu'elles soient encore, ont fait leurs preuves et 
leurs bonnes preuves." We may safely say that the 
process is complete; the noun has been evolved. It is 
still, however, deUcate. "Voiture automobile" is still 
more usual than the noun automobile, and pictures are 
labeled "voiture a 4 places," "voiture a 6 places." 
Writers do not yet feel quite like saying '^automobile 
k 6 places." The object is still to the popular view a 
"voiture" — even if it is a new sort of voiture. 

Thus we have seen in detail the process which we might 
find tersely noted in a dictionary as "automobile, origi- 


nally adjective, later substantive." We have further 
noted how far wrong one would have been to take Littre's 
date of the appearance of the word, 1876, as being also 
the date of its actual entry into popular use. We might 
say, I think, that automobile is a word that made its 
way rather quickly as words go. And yet it was not 
until nearly twenty years after its first appearance that 
it really formed a part of the popular working vocabulary, 
and was really used instead of more conservative sub- 

An additional indication of the time it took the word 
to gain its position is to be found in the catalogue of 
Columbia University library. There many of the cards 
on the subject of the automobile were originally headed 
"Vehicles — self-moving." Later this title was crossed 
out and replaced by the title "Automobiles." How late 
were books entered under the old title? How long did 
it seem proper not to use the new word ? Knowing that 
the word is dated as of 1876 or 1875, shall we say 1880 ? 
Having found the word to be in common use in the 
French magazines in 1896, shall we set this date as the 
latest possible one ? As a matter of fact books published 
as late as 1909 were entered in the catalogue under this 
heading: "Vehicles — self-moving." Allowing for the 
expected conservatism and cumbersomeness of catalog- 
ing systems, one would hardly expect to find the word 
automobile unused at so late a date. All this is interest- 
ing comment on one phase of the introduction of new 
words that is perhaps not always thought of. 

Automobile as a noun continues to furnish occupation 
for the linguists and grammarians. Its independence is 
such that it has even renounced the gender in which it 
originally gained entrance into the language and got 
itself used frequently, and recorded in the Petit Larousse 


(1907), for instance, as un automobile. The question of 
its gender was discussed by the Conseil d'fitat in con- 
nection with a case that had to do with automobiles and 
it was decided to be mascuhne. But the Academy soon 
after pronounced it feminine. ^° There are, as Nyrop 
points out (III, 345), precedents as far as form goes for 
both genders; domicile, reptile, ustensile being mascuhne 
and locomobile, argile, sebile being feminine. 

The next step is abbreviation, and the natural result 
is auto. This falls in with the large class of words, mostly 
abbreviations, ending in -o, generally masculine, where- 
fore un auto. Such words are piano, kilo, Metro, veto, 
melo{drame). Curiously the form auto as an abbrevia- 
tion is not modern. In the sixteenth century it was 
used as the abbreviation of autodafe (Nyrop IV, § 26) . 

The wide popularity of the word automobile, once it is 
established, gives great impetus of growth to the family 
auto. Even as early as 1877, when the word is only two 
years old, we find Littre's supplement giving, in addition 
to the original thirty-three words of this family in his 
dictionary, the following words: autobiographique, auto- 
chthonie (NeoL), autocratiquement, automatisation, auto- 
mobile (adj., hybride, terme de mecanique), automoteur 
(terme de mecanique), autonomiste (from autonomie), 
autopsier, autoptiquement. 

This growth, begun in 1877, only two years after the 
appearance of the word automobile, continues unabated. 
Larousse gives eighty-eight words of this family, which 
is forty-eight more than Littre in both dictionary and 
supplement. This indicates considerable vigor of growth 
in this word-element. The first supplement of Larousse 
adds fifteen more words. Many of these are directly 
connected with the field of mechanics and physics. Such 
are: autodrome (defined as a place for races, cf. p. 54), 
^•* Dauzat, La Langue frangaise d'aujourd'hui, p. 66. 


autoscaphe (Dauzat in La Langue frangaise d^aujourd^hui 
complains that neither autoscaphe nor autocanot, autonef, 
autoyole nor motocanot, all of which had been proposed, 
were used, but instead canot automohile), autocycle, auto- 
decohereur * (term of wireless telegraphy), autoconduction,* 
autoconservation,* autodifferenciation.* Others are terms 
of biology and medicine, such as: autocyctotoxine, auto- 
infection,* autointoxication,* automorphisme, autopexie. 

In the 1907-10 supplements of Larousse we find the 
growth continuing. There are added: taxauto,* auto- 
hallon,* autocatalyse, autochromie, autochromique, auto- 
chromiste, autolocomotion,* autolyse (chem.), autolyser 
(chem.), autolytique (chem.), automitrailleuse* autophohe, 
autophohie, autoplane,* autospasie (biol.), autotomie (biol.), 
autotomique (biol.), autotomiser (biol.). 

And in the 1911-13 supplement we find added auto- 
serotherapie. Recently auto-hus * has appeared. Twelve 
of these words, marked *, are of hybrid formation, like 

This word-element seems to have taken a firm hold 
on the popular fancy. It is the darling of the learned 
and the unlearned ahke. Every one delights to com- 
pound with it. Whether it is always perfectly under- 
stood " etymologically or not it seems to stand as the 

1^ It is frequently misunderstood by those whom one would 
expect to understand it. A questionnaire on the etymology and 
meaning of the word automohile in a college of the eastern United 
States, while producing a large percentage of correct answers, never- 
theless exhibited considerable ignorance as to the languages from 
which the two parts of the word were taken, many saying both ele- 
ments were French or both Latin. Quite generally, however, the 
element auto- was connected with the word automatic. We leave 
out of consideration as not serious or, if serious, as not significant, 
inane replies such as the following: "The automobile was given the 
name it has from the two words, attar and motor. An attar is an 
animal which can travel very easy. A motor is what propels a ma- 
chine"; ^^ Mobile, meaning 'to move,' and auto, meaning 'ought to' 


quintessential expression of the mechanical cleverness of 
the age in which we live.^^ Every time we hear it we feel 
flattered to think of our mastery over the forces of nature. 
We see in it a constant reminder of our inventive skill, 
not only perhaps in the field of mechanics but also in 
that of lexicography. Auto- is unquestionably one of the 
characteristic compounding elements of our time. But 
there is another no less popular one, and that we shall 
discuss in the next chapter. 

— 'ought to move/ automobile"; "It comes from two foreign words, 
auto, 'to ought,' mobile, 'to move.' Therefore, 'ought to move.'" 
And yet we find that many had such notions as are shown in the 
following replies: "Because the word automobile means 'gasoline 
propelled.'" "Mobile, 'light or swift,' auto, 'to go about.'" "The 
word is a newly coined word. It signified ' a vehicle of four wheels' 
when first used." "Auto, from the Latin or Greek word meaning 
'to go,' mobile meaning 'stationary.'" "Automobile was given its 
name because mobile means 'changeable' or 'movable.' The pre- 
fix auto was probably added to make the word have euphony." 

The prefix, when appearing in the word autointoxication, has 
caused some uncertainty. One person (a college freshman) asked 
if it is used to mean "they get intoxicated quick," showing clearly 
how the element auto comes in some minds to epitomize the idea 
of efficiency which the automobUe seems to symbolize. Two other 
persons (both high school teachers !) thought it was a disease con- 
tracted from too much riding in automobiles. 

^2 Several of the responses to the above mentioned question- 
naire set forth this idea of the element auto: "The word auto is 
given to any mechanical device." "Auto means *a mechanical 
device.' " — One can see in the shops an iron bed that can be 
folded up into about the size of a fire screen. This is called an auto- 
cot. One might be tempted to cite this as a deplorable instance of 
the absolute incapacity of the ordinary man in matters of word- 
formation. Rather is it a final step in the apotheosis of our word- 
element auto. What if this bed possesses no characteristic by which 
it can rightly be designated by the element auto ? For this inventor 
auto expresses the very essence of what is modern, of what is con- 
venient, of what is compact, of what is ingenious. It is the last 
word, or perhaps better the latest prefix, in the general vocabulary 
of eflSciency. 

The Word-element Aero- 

The word aeroplane dates from 1875 — the same year, 
as it happens, as the word automobile. But in that year 
the element aero- was much more firmly established in 
the vocabulary than was the element auto-. For while 
auto- was practically brought to life for use in the word 
automobile, the element aero- had been known for a 
hundred years in several words commonly used in the 
science of aerial locomotion. Therefore, in order to study 
the true origin of the word aeroplane, we must go back 
much earlier than 1875, in fact nearly a hundred years, to 
1783, and to the first experiments with hot-air balloons. 

And before we begin let us get a clear idea of the vari- 
ous terms of the science as they are now used. M. Armen- 
gaud, in Le Probleme de V aviation (1908), p. 4, gives a 
good differentiation as follows: "L'aeronautique com- 
prend deux branches: V aerostation soit avec les ballons 
libres, soit avec les dirigeables, comportant Temploi d'un 
gaz moins lourd que Fair; et V aviation (tire du mot avis) 
avec des appareils dits volateurs plus lourd que Fair." 
"On peut ranger en trois classes les volateurs, c'est a dire 
les machines qui doivent r^aliser I'aviation — les orthop- 
teres, les helicopter es et les aeroplanes.'^ 

It was the former branch of the science, that is, 
Vaerostation, that was developed first, and the vocabulary 
developed by this branch naturally conditioned the ter- 
minology of aviation. So we must first investigate the 
development of the vocabulary of aerostation in order 
to understand fully how that of aviation arose, 



The first successful experiment with hot-air balloons 
was made by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783. The 
words aerostatique and aerostat appear more or less ab- 
ruptly in that year.^ The word aeronaute appears in 
1786 (Cavallo), aerostation in the same year (idem). 
We find all these words in Feraud's dictionary (1787) 
and in the supplement (1798) to the Academy's dic- 
tionary. Before this time the element aer- had been 
somewhat used in forming compounds. The Academy's 
dictionary of 1776 (Lyon), under the heading aer, gives 
seven words: (1) aerer, donner de Pair; (2) aere, une 
maison aeree; (3) aerien, un corps aerien, les Demons 
aeriens, les esprits aeriens, la perspective aerienne; 
(4) aerographie, description de Fair; (5) aeromanciej 
divination par le moyen de Fair; (6) aerometre, instru- 
ment qui sert a mesurer la condensation ou la rarefaction 
de Fair; (7) aerometrie. Chambaud's dictionary (1778) 
gives practically the same list. Feraud (1787) omits 
(4), (5), (6) and (7), and gives the new aeronaute, aerostat, 
aerostateur and aerostatique. 

As time goes on the two names, ballon and aerostat, 
continue about equally in vogue. It is generally said 
that the one is the popular name and the other the 
learned, but this usage, as we shall see, is by no means 
consistent and is often in fact reversed. 

As early as 1786 the vocabulary of aerostation had 
become settled pretty much as it is to-day. In this year 
Tibere Cavallo translated an English treatise of 1785 
under the title Histoire et pratique de Vaerostation. In 
his preface he says: 

1 The word aSrostat is sometimes ascribed to Bernardin de St. 
Pierre and the Dictionnaire general gives references to his Har- 
monies de la nature under the word. But if this is his first use of 
the word it is evident that many of our examples are earlier. 


"L'art de voyager dans les airs, decouvert depuis peu 
et rapidement perfectionn^, a introduit quelques nouveaux 
termes, dont la signification est tres-aisee a retenir parce 
qu'ils sont principalement derives du mot latin aer, air. 
Ainsi les machines [the English original reads 'the flying 
instruments'] qui s'elevent dans I'air ont re^u la denomina- 
tion generale d'aerostats ou machines aerostatiques. Le nom 
d'aeronaute a 6te donne a la personne qui parcourt les airs 
au moyen d'une machine a^rostatique, et I'art lui-meme 
s'appelle le sujet de Vaerostation. L'on nomme ballons 
aeriens les machines aerostatiques" [the English original 
has: 'The flying machines are likewise called air balloons']. 

This is practically the terminology we have to-day. ' 

And yet, before the choice fell definitely and finally 
upon the element aero- and the words we have just men- 
tioned, there was a considerable struggle, for there 
appeared in all no less than twenty-four forms of desig- 
nation. Some of these survived almost indefinitely and 
continued in use long after the successful name aerostat 
had become well established. Even in the end selective 
elimination narrowed down only to two names instead 
of to one, and we shall see a learned and a popular name 
surviving side by side. 

The twenty-four different appellations were con- 
structed for the most part by the combination of six 
different nouns with three adjectives. That is to say, 
the new invention was either une machine or un globe 
or une sphere or un navire or un bateau or un vaisseau, 
characterized as either aerostatique or volant or aerien. 
Sometimes, rhetorically or fancifully, it was une voiture 
or un char or un cabriolet or un esquif or un poisson or 
un automate. But these latter denominations were the 
caprice of one or two authors, and the serious proposals 
were confined to combinations of the six nouns and three 
adjectives above mentioned. 


The results of the activity of the different proposers 
of names are to be seen in the following Hst of terms found 
in various books and magazine articles. These are the 
names tentatively employed before a definite selection 
had been made. Any one of them might have become 
the chosen designation; but by process of selection most 
of them fell into disuse, some more quickly, others after 
a longer survival. 

Names with aerostatique as qualifier: (1) machine aero- 
statiqice, (2) globe aerostatique, (3) sphere aerostatique, 
(4) navire aerostatique, (5) barque aerostatique, (6) maison 
aerostatique, (7) ballon aerostatique (8) aerostat. 

Names made with volant, a voter, etc., as qualifier: 
(9) globe volant, (10) bateau volant, (11) vaisseau volant, 
(12) machine volante, (13) poisson volant, (14) voiture 
volante, (15) machine d (pour) voler. 

Names with aerien as qualifier: (16) machine aerienne, 
(17) vaisseau aerien, (18) navire aerien, (19) ballon aerien, 
(20) voiture aerienne, (21) sphere aerienne. 

Other designations: (22) montgolfiere, (23) charliere, 
(24) aero-montgolfiere. 

This is a generous group to select from. We do not 
find in it the combinations: vaisseau aerostatique, bateau 
aerostatique, bateau aerien, globe aerien, sphere volante, 
navire volant, and ballon volant. Otherwise the permuta- 
tions of our six nouns and three adjectives seem to have 
been pretty much exhausted. 

Before proceeding further, let us consider from what 
known idea this new conception of aerial locomotion 
developed. We remember, in the case of the railroad, 
that when in the beginning men spoke of it they re- 
garded it as a development and improvement of the 
canal. Again, the automobile was thought of as a voiture 
or fiacre, and was so spoken of. The result was that 


the railroad terminology grew in some part out of the 
canal terminology, and the naming of the automobile 
was influenced somewhat by its being thought of as a 
voiture. In the case of the aerostat the early tendency 
was pretty generally to think of it as a transference 
of a boat from the water to the air. The result of this 
was that, from the outset, when one wished to make a 
general reference to the new invention, he was likely to 
do so in terms similar to the following: ''La construc- 
tion d^un navire qui devait se soutenir et voyager dans 
Fair" (M. Faujas de St. Fond, in 1783, referring, in his 
introduction, to a work of Lana de Brescia, 1670) ; "Nous 
construirons ce vaisseau de bonne et forte toile doublee." 
''Quant a la forme qu'il faut donner a ce vaisseau ..." 
(Faujas de St. Fond quoting from Uart de naviguer 
dans Vair, by Galien, Avignon, 1757). 

When the figure of a boat sailing on the water was 
present to the mind, it suggested the following words 
and expressions: naviguer, navigation, navigable, nautique 
aerienne, pilotage, une marine aerienne (Dupuis-Delcourt, 
1834), nauf rages aeriens (Magasin pittoresque 1872), 
voyage aerien, une flotte aeronautique. We also find vari- 
ous proposals for air machines constructed with r antes, 
mats, voiles, ancres, etc. 

This figure of speech, however, did not escape criti- 
cism. When, about 1783, it was proposed to give a 
medal to the Montgolfier brothers "pour avoir rendu 
Fair navigable,'' some took exception to the word navi- 
le, remarking, as Faujas de St. Fond tells us: 

"On vole dans Fair, on nage dans Feau, et on navigue sur 
la surface de ce dernier element. L'idee de navigation em- 
porte celle d'un corps solide soutenu sur la surface d'un 
fiuide. L'expression de navigable ne peut done etre appli- 
quee a un fluide tel que Fair. D'ailleurs ce n'est point ici 
Fair qui a ^te rendu propre a transporter des corps solides, 


mais ce sont des corps solides qui ont 6i6 rendus propres 
a etre transport's dans Tair." 

To this the rejoinder was : 

"Voler et nager ne sont applicables qu'a des animaux vi- 
vans et la m'taphore (de navigation) semble moins hardie 
qu'un grand nombre de celles qui sont d'un usage familier 
dans notre langue." 

In spite of objections this tendency to think and speak 
of the new invention in terms of boats continued long 
after 1783. As late as 1857 we find a self-styled aeronau- 
graphe (A. J. Sanson, Preuve sur preuve d'une nautique 
mrienne, tirees de fails d^ aerostation, pamphlet, 1857) 
objecting to the tendency in question. 

''La machine aerienne," he says, "operant au sein d'un 
seul fluide, Pair, dans lequel elle se trouve immerg'e, jus- 
tifie son nom d'aerostat et n'offre aucune similitude r'elle 
avec la machine amphibique [he means by this a boat] 
avec laquelle on la compare generalement mais qui, operant 
entre deux fluides [i.e., water and air] n'est ni un hydrostat 
ni un aerostat, mais une machine mixte a laquelle la science 
meme, placee entre une hesitation et une intuition, a pro- 
visoirement laisse le nom vague de vaisseau.^' 

This airship conception is responsible for the following 
terms. The most common is navire aerien. It is found 
as early as 1784 and as late as 1912. Examples of its use 
are as follows: 

1784, C. G. Kratzenstein, UArt de naviguer dans Vair : 
"Si le navire aerien est un ballon de taffetas. . ." 

1835, La Lanterne magique, an article entitled ^'Navire 

1851, Bescherelle in U Instruction popularisee, Histoire 
des hallons uses it. 


1859, Farcot, La Navigation atmospherique, has a pic- 
ture labeled ''Petit navire aerien de plaisance" and also 
uses the form several times. 

1872, the Illustration uses this form frequently, also 
navire aerostatique, navigation aerienne. 

1912, Joanneton, Sur V Utilisation des aeroplanes pour le 
lancement des projectiles begins "Nous sommes dans un 
navire aerien." 

So much for this form of designation, which was one 
of the most common. 

The same noun, navire, was occasionally but less fre- 
quently used in combination with the adjective aerosta- 
tique {e.g., the Illustration, 1872, quoting ?a Presse, 1852). 
In combination with the third of our adjectives it was 
not popular, and navire volant is not found. 

The form vaisseau aerien occurs, but is less common: 

1784, Kratzenstein : ''Montgolfier a imagine le premier 
vaisseau aerien" (with twenty-three other occurrences). 

1820, title of a pamphlet published at Paris, reprint 
of an edition of 1804, Vienna, "La Minerve, vaisseau 

1834 (reported again verbatim 1850), Dupuis-Del- 
court, Nouveau manuel d^ aerostation (Manuels-Roret) , 
uses it. 

1851, Bescherelle, "UHistoire des hallons." 

1873, the Illustration, in an article on "L'ascension du 
ballon Jean Bart,'^ says: "Quand Findustrie construira 
des vaisseaux aeriens, munis de machines a vapeur. . . ." 

1875, Alphonse Brown, La Conquete de Fair, speaks of 
"notre vaisseau aerien" (also navire aerien). 

The form vaisseau aerostatique is not found, but vais- 
seau volant appears occasionally, e.g. 1783, in a comic 
reference in Faujas de St. Fond; 1869, F. Marion, Les 
hallons et les voyages aeriens, speaks of "le vaisseau volant 
de Blanchard (1784)." 


Besides navire and vaisseau, the analogy of the sea 
gave "hatteau (sic) volant," 1783, Faujas de St. Fond, 
speaking of Lana de Brescia's machine. 

1850, Dupuis-Delcourt refers to *4e bateau volant de 
Blanchard." The forms bateau aerostatique and bateau 
aerien did not appear, but barque aerostatique and esquif 
aerien are found: 

1802, Henin de Cuvillers, Memoire sur la direction des 
aerostats, '^conduire a volonte une barque aerostatique." 

1850, Dupuis-Delcourt, Nouveau manuel d^ aerostation, 
"la barque de Lana (1670)." 

More generally, however, the name barque was reserved 
for la nacelle : 

1802, '4a pesanteur de la barque {i.e. nacelle) suspen- 
due," Henin de Cuvillers. 

1874, the term esquif aerien is found in the Illustration, 
probably merely for the sake of variety as a rhetorical 

So much for the terms suggested by the analogy of 
boats. Although certain of these names, principally 
navire aerien and vaisseau aerien, continued in frequent 
use long after a final selection had been made, it was 
not from this group that the permanent name, either 
popular or learned, was to be chosen. 

Some persons preferred to think of the new invention 
not as a boat but as a sort of vehicle or carriage. These 
gave it such names as cabriolet volant, a machine which 
Bescherelle {Histoire des ballons, 1851) says appeared in 
1772 at Etampes; char volant, applied to ScaUger's con- 
ception by Tibere Cavallo, who translated his Histoire 
et partique de V aerostation from the English, 1786; voi- 
ture volante or voiture aerienne, both mentioned by 
Bescherelle, 1851, and the former also used by Dupuis- 
Delcourt, 1850, as a name for the machine of the Abb^ 


Desforges made in 1772. Even the term maison aerosta- 
tique was used by M. de Parcieux, Dissertation sur les 
globes aerostatiques, Paris, 1783. All these names, how- 
ever, were rather too fanciful to obtain much serious 
vogue and thus can hardly be considered very sig- 

But there was a third type of name, and from this it 
was that one of the two permanent designations was 
finally chosen. This type was influenced by the idea 
of the shape of the new invention and also by the idea 
that it swims in the air Hke a fish in water. As early as 
1804 experiments were made with a type of machine 
similar in form to the modern dirigibles, and it was not 
unnatural to call these balloons poissons. We read in 
La Minerve, vaisseau aerien, a pamphlet reprinted in 
Paris in 1820, from a Vienna edition of 1804: 

On fit venir de Paris MM. Bollee, pere et fils, pour con- 
struire en beaudruche un poisson de 90 pieds de long et 24 
de diametre. Les deux nageoires ont 30 pieds de long et la 
queue ou gouvernail 15. 

As late as 1871 the Illustration (July 8), in an article 
on '*La poste a^rienne," speaks of ''I'auteur d'un hallon- 
poisson." This form of expression had also been used 
as early as 1793, though in a pamphlet of hardly scien- 
tific seriousness, Le Dauphin enleve ou Vart de se diriger 
dans les airs, par le V^^ de . . . Londres 1793. This writer 
constantly referred to ''mon poisson volant" and "le 
poisson ou bateau," and carried the figure further in 
such expressions as "dedans le corps du poisson" and 
"des nageoires suspendus au bas de la carcasse." But 
this term did not meet with much favor. This was not 
necessarily because the figure was too daring or too un- 
scientific. Natural objects sometimes furnish acceptable 


terms of this sort, as in the case of ^^ poire electrique." 
The probable reason for its rejection was rather that 
most experiments were not with a form that would sug- 
gest a poisson, for the greater part of the experiments 
were with spherical bags. These it was only natural 
to speak of as ''spheres aerostatiques/' "spheres aerien- 
nes/' ''globes aerostatiques," "globes volants," of which 
fairly numerous examples occur; for example: 

1783, Faujas de St. Fond uses "globes aerostatiques " 
and often refers to the whole appliance as "le globe," 
"ces globes." 

1783, a notice distributed in Paris, quoted (1850) by 
Dupuis-Delcourt, speaks of "des ballons ou globes" 
(using the latter word five times to ballon once), and 
also of "la sphere aerostatique ou le globe volant." 

1802, Henin de Cuvillers uses "globes aerostatiques," 
but only once. Even in 1873 we find, in the Illustration 
(Mar. 1), "le gaz dont la sphere aerienne est gonflee." 
But here the author is perhaps thinking more particu- 
larly of the bag rather than of the object as a whole. 
And this in fact is the use to which these words sphere 
and globe were more and more restricted as time went 
on. And being thus restricted they were used less and 
less as general names. 

Such, too, it might have been expected would be the 
fate of the word ballon, and yet such was not the case. 
From the beginning this word, like sphere and globe, 
had been used in compounds to form a general name — 
ballon aerien (1786), ballon aerostatique (1783). But it 
was used alone more frequently than any of the other 
nouns when a single word was desired as a name. From 
1783, Faujas de St. Fond, and 1784, Kratzenstein, it is 
the preferred name. By 1786, according to the testi- 
mony of Cavallo, ballon was definitely the most favored of 
all the words. "Cette espece de sac, qui prit le nom de 


ballon a cause de sa forme globuleuse, et donna le nom 
de hallons aeriens aux machines volantes en general," is 
what he says. 

It is true also that the word ballon was used not less 
frequently than sphere or globe as meaning distinctly 
the bag and nothing more. It was so used in the quota- 
tion from Cavallo just given. Witness also the follow- 
ing examples: 1784, Kratzenstein, "\e ballon ou le corps 
principal du vaisseau"; ^'attacher au ballon le bateau 
qui doit recevoir les voyageurs." In 1802 Henin de 
Cuvillers frequently used indiscriminately the words 
ballon and globe to name the bag, and also used the word 
ballon, along with aerostat, to name the entire machine. 
We find a similar confusion in 1804 in Zambeccari (quoted 
by Dupuis-Delcourt). In 1820 Robertson, La Minerve, 
in describing his '' vaisseau aerien," labels the bag por- 
tion '^ballon de 150 pieds de diametre, en soie crue," and 
then says, ''ce globe enleve un navire." 

Even as late as 1834, in La lanterne magique, it does 
not seem definitely settled which words shall mean simply 
the bag and which shall refer to the whole machine. 
When the author here referred to says, ''rarefiait Fair 
contenu dans le ballon,^' or ''se faire enlever par un ballon 
retenu par des cordes," or ''le ballon se gonfla," it seems 
that he is thinking rather more of the bag than of the 
whole machine. 

This same confusion often extended even to the word 
aerostat. In the same article the author says, ''remplir 
V aerostat de gaz." This same use is even clearer in the 
Illustration as late as 1875 (Dec. 18) describing ''La 
chute du ballon TUnivers." Speaking from the point 
of view of one in ''la nacelle," the author says: "levant 
les yeux vers Vaerostat il s'aper9ut que sa sphericite s'etait 
alteree." The bag was also often called "le vaisseau"; 
1784, Kratzenstein, "ce gaz, introduit dans le vaisseau.^^ 


But while the words sphere and globe became by such 
use narrowed and very Hkely disquaUfied for the position 
of general name, the words ballon and aerostat resisted 
this tendency and remained, in spite of this occasional 
misappropriation, sufficiently general to refer to the 
whole object. 2 

Sometimes a less definite form of reference than navire 
or sphere or ballon was desired. Then the word machine 
was resorted to. This was combined with all three ad- 
jectives and is found frequently both early and more 
lately : 

Machine aerostatique — 1783, Faujas de St. Fond, ''les 
machines aerostatiques des Montgolfiers, ^' etc.; 

1804, La Minerve, pamphlet, "la machine aerostatique 
appelee La Minerve"; 

1850, Dupuis-Delcourt, "la machine aerostatique de 

Machine volante — 1784, Uart de voler a la maniere 
des oiseaux, Meerwein, Basle, 1784, "la matiere em- 
ployee a la construction d'une machine volante'^; 

1786, Histoire et pratique de V aerostation, Cavallo, ''. . . 
cette espece de sac, qui prit le nom de ballon a cause de 
sa forme globuleuse et donna le nom de ballons aeriens 
aux machines volantes en general"; 

1891, the Illustration, June 20, refers to "la machine 
volante de M. Ader," also to "la machine a voler. ^^ 

Machine aerienne — 1784, Rapport fait a V Academic 
des Sciences sur la machine aerostatique inventee par MM. 

2 Ballon of course, unlike aerostat, was a word already in com- 
mon use in other meanings. The dictionary of the Academy, 
Lyons, 1776, defines it as follows: " Vessie enflee d'air et recouverte 
de cuir dont on joue en la frappant avec le poing ou le pied. Aussi 
une sorte de vaisseau a plusieurs rames dont on se sert pour aller 
sur les fleuves de Siam. Aussi, en chimie, un gros matras ou une 


Montgolfier says, ''en 1755 on imprima a Avignon L'art 
de naviguer dans les airs, amusement physique et geome- 
trique, par P. GallienJ^ In quoting from this work the 
article uses the word vaisseau and adds the explanatory- 
note, ''car il est question d'une vaste machine aerienneJ' 
1894, the Illustration, 15 Dec, speaks of "une machine 
aerienne construite d'apres les principes formules par M. 

Une montgolfiere was a name very popular for some 
time, not only at first but persisting for a long time as 
the term for a hot-air balloon as distinguished from 
one inflated by gas. Had this been chosen as the general 
name, as for a time seemed not unlikely, it would have 
been an interesting parallel to the modern words zeppe- 
lin and Caproni. Examples of its use are : 

1784, Relation du voyage aerien de Pilastre de Rozier et 
Proust quoted in Dupuis-Delcourt, "La montgolfiere 
s'elevait tres lentement," "le cone de la montgolfiere j'^ 
and frequent other instances; 

1833, Magasin pittoresque, in an article called "L'aeros- 
tation," uses "les montgolfieres " as a name for a special 
kind of balloon; 

1853, Selle de Beauchamp, "Le materiel de I'aerosta- 
tion avait et6 detruit et lorsque Conte voulut, dans 
une fete, elever un aerostat, ce fut une montgolfiere en 
toile dont il se servit"; 

1877, Le monde illustre, Sept. 8, Courrier de Paris, 
"La mode des montgolfieres est revenue. Ces ballons 
enflammes impressionnent mieux le pubHc que les bal- 
lons a gaz"; 

1899, W. de Fonvielle, "On a lance depuis un siecle 
des milliers de montgolfieres et aussi des milHers d'aeros- 
tats gonfles au gaz." "Dans toutes les principales villes 
on lan9a des ballons ou des montgolfieres perdues.'^ 


The form aero-montgolfiere is occasionally found: 1850, 
Dupuis-Delcourt speaks of 'Taero-montgolfiere de Pilas- 
tre de Rozier''; 

1880, L. Figuier gives a picture entitled ''L'aero-mont- 
golfiere de Pilastre de Rozier." 

Out of all this confusion and profusion of terms the 
word ballon gradually emerged as the popular name. 
Feraud says in his dictionary (1787), article aerostat: 
''On nommait d'abord ces machines freles et legeres, 
globe, ballon. On les a ensuite nommes aerostat, nom 
plus savant." From being at first no more firmly estab- 
Hshed than the name sphere or globe or navire or vaisseau, 
and apphed as often as these words to the bag alone as 
weU as to the whole machine, the word ballon, by the 
inevitabiUty of popular choice, became more and more 
strengthened in the position of the chosen name and 
ended by prevaihng. 

Its triumph had to be shared, however. From the very 
first we find a powerful and an eventually equally success- 
ful rival in aerostat. If we look over the list of the various 
names that were tried (p. 67) we shall see that seven 
were made with the aid of the adjective aerostatique. 
The abbreviation to which all of these would reduce 
would naturally be one and the same. As the original 
''machine locomotive" gives us locomotive, and "voi- 
ture automobile" gives automobile, so "machine, globe, 
ballon or navire aerostatique" might be expected to give 
as noun aerostatique. Whether this word is too plainly 
labeled as adjective by the termination -ique, or whether 
it is too long, it in any case becomes shortened. And the 
abbreviation of all the combinations appears uniformly 
as aerostat. 

Thus was made the selection of the two names for 
the balloon. Let us now see how it came about that 


aeroplane was the word chosen for the heavier-than-air 
machine when this was invented. By our study of the 
naming of the balloon I think we now feel the almost 
inevitability of the choice of the root aer for the desired 
new word. It almost seems impossible that any other 
root should have been selected. In the Hst (p. 67) of 
terms considered for the balloon, fifteen out of the twenty- 
four contain the root aer. Only those made with volant 
and one or two special words do not. From this we 
may feel that it is likely that this root will be selected 
for purposes of composition when a new name is needed. 
Yet if popular caprice had chosen to reject this well- 
established root and make an entirely fresh word we 
could not have been surprised either. Indeed the seven 
combinations that were made with volant were not, 
as we shall see, altogether without influence, and French 
was not without its ''machine volante,'* etc. — counter- 
parts of the at one time more or less common English 
designation ''flying machine." 

The origin of the second part also of the new word, the 
element plane, suggests interesting questions. Is it, as 
Larousse indicates, from the French planer, and is the 
word aeroplane therefore a hybrid? Or are those Hel- 
lenists right who rescue it from this ignominy by deriv- 
ing it directly from the undoubtedly existent Greek 
adjective aepbifKavos '^ wandering in the air," from irXavo), 
from which also planet? This question may become 
clearer to us as we investigate the pre-natal development 
of the word aeroplane. 

The ballon or aerostat is a machine which is lighter 
than air, the aeroplane is heavier than air. From the 
very beginning there were experiments with both these 
types of machine, and almost as early as the successful 
experimentations of the Montgolfier brothers we find 
men believing that it was possible to fly with a heavier- 


than-air machine. But tlie balloons were perfected long 
before the aeroplanes. We shall be interested to see how 
these very early attempts at aeroplanes were referred to 
during the long period of unsuccessful experiment, for 
in these references we shall be able to watch the whole 
process of formation or of selection of the name which 
is to be. 

First let us see how natural it is that the second ele- 
ment of the word aeroplane should be what it is — how 
this element no less than the other part aer seems to 
grow into acceptance by the natural and gradual process 
of popular use. To do this we have only to arrange in 
order the following quotations, all antedating the defini- 
tive appearance of the word aeroplane, which we remem- 
ber was not until 1875. 

1784, Rapport fait a VAcademie des Sciences sur la 
machine aerostatique inventee par MM. de Montgolfier : 
''Le vol des oiseaux est si etonnant et la faculte de se 
lever et de planer dans les airs. . . . '^ 

1834, Recherches sur le vol des oiseaux et Vart aerosta- 
tique, Dubochet (quoted by Armengaud, p. 25) : ''II carac- 
terise les genres de vol comme vol rame, vol plane, vol 
a la voile.'' 

1850, Dupuis-Delcourt's Manuel : '' . . . de planer dans 
les airs"; ''ce secret de planer dans le vaste atmosphere." 

1868, May 2, the Illustration, ''Relation de I'ascension 
scientifique de C. Flammarion": "... planant au-dessus 
d'un ocean sans bornes" and many other occurrences of 
the verb planer, e.g., in the issue of August 29, in an 
article on "Le voyage du ballon Le Neptune" we find 
"nous planons. ..." 

1868, Le prohleme de la navigation aerienne, Cordenons 
Pascal: ". . .un faucon planer dans les airs." 

1869, Les hallons et les voyages aeriens, F. Marion: 
"J'ai souvent examine les oiseaux qui planenV^ ; "la 


question est de chercher un nouvel engin susceptible de 
planer et de voler dans Fair." 

There were, of course, other words besides planer 
occasionally used to describe the motion which it was 
the attempt of inventors to imitate. Such, for example, 
was glisser. Now and then, too, an author would use 
the word voguer in speaking of an aerostat. But planer 
became more and more the usual word. And so when, 
in 1875, we find Alphonse Brown, in ''La conqu^te de 
Fair," saying: ''Pour diriger cette masse ou plutot 
cette large superficie, cet aeroplane en un mot [itahcs 
in the original] il fallait un gouvernail," ^ we are not 
surprised, but rather feel it was the most natural word 
to use. Nor are we now inclined, plausible as it would 
seem to be, to derive the word from the convenient Greek 

But let us see what other proposals had been made 
when, in the years before 1875, it was necessary to refer 
to the machine which inventors were trying to evolve in 
imitation of birds and which was later to be called the 
aeroplane. If the analogy of ships had great influence 
in the formation of the aerostat vocabulary, the analogy 
of birds was no less potent in the heavier-than-air ter- 
minology. "Flying,'' "voler," — that was the magic 
word, especially in the earUer days. We recall that 
nearly a third of the tentative names for the balloon were 
made by the aid of the adjective volant. While this 
component was not finally selected as the accepted name 
for either the balloon or the aeroplane, still there was for 
a time a tendency to use one or another combination 
containing this word, and French had for a while its 
counterparts of the EngHsh term "flying machine." 
In fact the greater part of the earlier references to the 

3 This is the earliest instance of the use of the word that we 


machine which was not a true aerostat were made by 
means of the words voler, volant, etc. 

1784, in Rapport a VAcademie des Sciences, Roger 
Bacon is called ''le premier qui ait parle d'une machine 
pour volerJ^ 

1784, Meerwein, Uart de voler a la maniere des oiseaux : 
"... la matiere employee a la construction d'une machine 
volante'' (twice); 'Thomme volant" as a term for the 
aeronaut (thrice). 

1786, Cavallo, Histoire et pratique de Vaerostation, in 
speaking of early attempts at air navigation, uses gen- 
erally the term "Part de voler. ''^ Translating from Roger 
Bacon, he says, '41 y a certainement une machine volante"; 
and later: ''depuis Bacon Fart de voler a eu plusieurs 
partisans"; ''on a propose d'apprendre a voler graduelle- 
ment aux enfants en les prenant des I'age le plus tendre"; 
"Cuper trouva Fart de voler"; "Scaliger con9oit que la 
structure de pareils automates volans, au moyen d'un 
char volant . . . une machine volante. ..." 

1850, Dupuis-Delcourt, Manuel d^ aerostation : "la ma- 
chine volante de Dante," "la machine a voler de Besnier, 
1678"; "la voiture volante de I'abbe Desforges, 1772"; 
"le bateau volant de Blanchard"; "de volateur il se fit 
aeronaute." The usage of this author and the preced- 
ing seems to be to confine the term volant to primitive 
machines. And yet the current use of volant persisted 
on and on. 

1863, the Illustration, column "Courrier de Paris," 
which uses Uterary rather than scientific language, tells 
of a Basque who was trying to fly by means of "ailes" 
and, without giving any name to his machine, calls him 
"Fhomme volant." 

1864, the "Courrier de Paris" column of the Illustra- 
tion, again refers to M. Van Groof as "un homme volant," 
but fails to give any name to his machine. 


1868, Le Magasin pittoresque has an article on the new 
form of aerial propulsion in which the aviator is referred 
to as ''rhomme aile" as well as 'Thomme volant.'' 

1869, F. Marion, Les ballons et les voyages aeriens, speaks 
of "le vaisseau volant de Blanchard, 1784." 

By this time, however, the term machine volante was 
gradually being replaced by other designations; such, 
for example, as aeronef, plus lourd que Fair. Yet it con- 
tinued to be used now and then, often in popular style, 
but also in more scientific articles. 

1876, Le Monde illustre (Dec. 2) has an article in the 
column "Memento" on "Le nouvel homme oiseau," 
in the course of which it says: "on se rappelle la mort 
de rhomme volant (Groof) a Londres," "Sir R. Scott 
a presente a M. Bismark sa nouvelle machine a voter J' 

1891, the Illustration (June 20) speaks of "la machine 
volante de M. Ader" and uses the term machine a voter. 

1894, the Illustration again uses machine volante, 

1908, Uaeroplane Wilbur Wright, by A. Bracke, begins 
its preface as follows: "L'interet croissant qui s' attache 
aux questions d'aviation nous incite a publier quelques 
monographes traitant, soit des machines volantes experi- 
mentees avec succes, soit de questions qui se rattachent 
au vol naturel ou mecanique en general." 

There is a disposition to retain the stem vol- as a useful 
variant for the different terms needed. It is sometimes 
used in forming a name of very general appHcation, as 
in Le Prohleme de V aviation, J. Armengaud, 1908: "L'aero- 
nautique comprend deux branches : Faerostation . . . et 
I'aviation avec des appareils dits volateurs plus lourds 
que Fair . . . mais I'aeroplane doit etre la meilleure forme 
des machines volantes.'' "On peut ranger en trois classes 
les volateurs, c'est-a-dire les machines qui doivent reahser 
I'aviation," "...le volateur, nom qu'on donne aussi a 
Fappareil d'aviation." 


In general, however, the stem vol- did not offer serious 
rivaby to the elements aer- and -plane. In the beginning 
it was discredited by being generally reserved to refer 
to the earlier and less practical experiments. Later it 
was used to form a very general name for all sorts of 
machines (volateurs) and thus relegated to a position of 
rather rare use. 

Some twelve or fifteen years before the word aeroplane 
appeared, experiments with this kind of machine became 
increasingly promising and successful, and at least two 
words came to the fore to perform the work for which 
the stem vol- had gradually become incapacitated. It 
was at this time also that another of the new words of 
the vocabulary of the science appeared, viz., the general 
term Vaviation. Before speaking of the two expressions 
employed in advance of the word aeroplane, let us de- 
scribe briefly the birth of the term aviation. 

In 1784 Ch. Fred. Meerwein, architecte de S. A. S. le 
prince de Baade, proposed to attempt a form of flight 
more similar to that of birds than was the method of 
Montgolfier. He called his treatise Uart de voler a la 
maniere des oiseaux (Basle, 1784). In it he remarks: 
'^C'est en me servant d'une machine moins couteuse, 
plus solide que les ballons que je me propose de courir 
les plaines etherees [there are here, we may observe, no 
figures from the sea] en conformant mon vol a celui des 
oiseaux." His machine is ''une machine volante," but 
he proposes no general name such as Vaviation for this 
new branch of the science of aeronautics. 

The balloons continue to hold the center of interest 
until, in December, 1863, we find the Illustration giving 
an account of a Basque who attempted a method of 
flight with wings (ailes). But here again this division 
of V aerostation receives no generic name. In fact a few 


months later (Feb. 1864) we find in the same magazine 
evidence that this branch of the science was not in a 
state of development to require the immediate establish- 
ment of a terminology. In the department ''Revue 
scientifique/' under the head ''Aerostation/' the editors 
explain that they have not treated the subject much up 
to this time because they feel it is a problem not as yet 
solved. After some general discussion mention is made 
of a new form of air machine which shall avoid the prime 
fault of balloons as so far developed, viz,, impossibility 
of being steered. This new form, it is said, "sera un 
appareil nageant, s'elevant . . . grace a Fhelice qui sera 
appliquee a la nacelle." This is unquestionably the 
science destined later to be called aviation. But no 
genei^al name for it is proposed and the whole subject is 
dismissed with the remark: "Nous y reviendrons quand 
nous aurons a annoncer un resultat positif." 

The next year, however, the term aviation appears. 
M. Nadar was making experiments. The Illustration, 
in its "Inventaire de Tannee" (Dec. 31, 1864), says: 
"M. Nadar ne cesse pas de . . . proclamer I'inanite du 
ballon et de promettre Tavenir de I'hehce." This again 
was really aviation, but the Illustration uses no real 
name. The following year, however, (1865) M. Nadar 
himself remedied the deficiency. In his book, Le Droit 
au vol, he designates as Vaviation the form of the science 
which he champions. The passage is as follows : " N'avais- 
je pas cree au profit de la Cause di Aviation, en France et 
partout, une Agitation qui se manifeste chaque jour par 
la discussion?'' (p. 106). 

Interest in this form of aerial navigation continued, 
and experiments "a I'aide d'appareils plus lourds que 
Fair qu'ils deplacent et mis en mouvement par de puis- 
sants moteurs" {Le Magasin pittoresque, 1868, p. 407) 


continued to be more and more successful. "La ques- 
tion du 'plus lourd que Fair' se rattache," says our 
magazine, ''plus directement a celle de I'homme aile 
qu'a Faerostation proprement dite." Although in this 
passage the new word aviation does not appear, it is 
used later on, and from this time the science is generally 
so named. In 1874 the Illustration (Nov. 28) speaks of 
the "experiences avec des appareils d' aviation par Al- 
phonse Penaud." And elsewhere in the same journal 
the word is unhesitatingly used. 

The machines themselves, however, whereby aviation 
is being realized are, as yet, without a name. In the 
earUer times, when experiments were concerned with the 
type of machine which was not a balloon, there was, as 
we have seen, a tendency to use a name made on the 
stem vol-. But we have already traced the utilization 
of this stem and have found that it does not furnish us 
with the definitive name. If, as we have seen, this new 
branch of the science receives in 1865 its specific name 
aviation, we may wonder how the machines were desig- 
nated in the ten years before the word aeroplane appears. 

In February, 1864, we find such a reference in the 
Illustration, In the "Revue scientifique," under the 
heading "Aerostation," note is made of a new form of 
machine not, Uke the hot-air and gas balloons, impossi- 
ble to steer, but clearly an attempt at an aeroplane. 
Nor is it referred to, as one might expect, as "une 
machine volante." Now it is "Faeronef." "A bas 
Faerostat ! Place a Vaeronef [itaHcs in the original], 
Ktteralement un navire aerien. Ce sera un appareil 
nageant, s'elevant . . . grace a Fhelice qui sera appliquee 
a la nacelle." However, this machine is not looked upon 
as very successful. "On n'aura pas trouve Fomnibus 
des airs, le probleme n'est pas resolu, pas plus pour les 


aerostats que pour les aeronefs. Nous y reviendrons 
quand nous aurons a annoncer un resultat positif." 
Note that it is the element aero- that is here used. 

There were in addition other experiments with this 
same word-element aero-. On the last page of the Illus- 
tration for July 16, 1864, appears a conspicuous announce- 
ment of "La societe franyaise des aeroscaphes. Expose 
des principes d'apres lesquels un aerostat pent etre diri- 
geable." A cut shows a machine like a modern dirigible 
balloon rather than an aeroplane. In the course of the 
announcement the new word aeroscaphe is not again 
used, but instead is found generally the word aerostat, 
and once ballon. 

In 1868, in a work entitled Le Prohleme de la navigation 
aerienne, Verone, 1868, Cordenons Pascal offered a solu- 
tion of the problem by means of a machine not altogether 
unlike an aeroplane. Throughout the work he carefully 
refrains from giving his invention a name. He avoids 
aerostat and ballon, occasionally using the general term 
navire aerien, but mostly calling it '^cet instrument. '^ 
In the very last sentence he flashes it on us. It is aero- 
navire: — ''il me parait d'avoir substitue au ballon un 
plus sur moyen de navigation aerienne, un AERONA- 
VIRE [capitals are his] qui peut etre domine par son 
voyageur." But these two proposed terms, aeroscaphe 
and aeronavire, were not generally taken up. 

Aeronef, on the contrary, was for some time a word 
of considerable promise. M. Landur uses it in a memoir 
published in 1864 in a collection by le V*^ de Ponton 
d'Amecourt. ''On peut munir V aeronef d'une vaste 
surface...."^ In 1875 Alphonse Brown, in the very 
book in which he introduces — its first appearance so 
far as I have been able to find — the word aeroplane, 
seems nevertheless to prefer for ordinary purposes the 
* Quoted by Armengaud, p. 35. 


word aeronef, and he uses it generally throughout the 
book in referring to the machine which he really con- 
sidered to be ''un aeroplane/' but which he calls so only 
two or three times. ^'Les vents contraires arreteront 
le vol des aeronefs"; '4'aeronef effectuerait un trajet"; 
"il projetait de construire un nouvel aeronef; '^ and so 

Yet even after the appearance of aeroplane, the word 
aeronef did not disappear. We find it as late as 1908. 
In that year La Nature (part I, p. 277) has an article 
by L. Fournier entitled ^'L'aeronef Malecot." In this 
case the word is used to name a '^ ballon dirigeable." 

But meantime there were some who, while discarding 
such a designation as machine volante, did not accept the 
proffered aeronef. These made use of the rather cumber- 
some descriptive term "\e plus lourd que Fair." In 1865 
M. Nadar in the same work, Le Droit au vol, in which 
we found the first use of the word aviation also gives as a 
proposal for the name of the new machines the com- 
pound ''plus lourd que Fair." ^ It is a phrase that would 
naturally be used in any description of these machines. 
But it could hardly become a veritable name. 

Others also took up the term. In 1868 we find in Le 
Magasin pittoresque (p. 407) an article of two pages, 
with an illustration, on the subject of aerostation.^ In 
the course of it we find mentioned ''un troisieme mode 
de navigation aerienne ... a Taide d'appareils plus lourds 
que Vair qu'ils deplacent et mis en mouvement par de 
puissants moteurs." [Already quoted.] Here of course the 
phrase is merely descriptive and not in any sense a name. 

5 For example, p. 28, he says, "Le probleme de la navigation 
aerienne est double en effet, et si notre theorie du plus lourd que 
Vair est admise ..." 

6 Title "Les Ailes. De la possibilite pour Thomme de s'atta- 
cher des ailes et de voler comme I'oiseau." 


But immediately comes a different use: "La, question 
du 'plus lourd que Fair' [quotation marks in the origi- 
nal] se rattache plus directement a celle de Fhomme 
aile qu'a I'aerostation proprement dite.'^ 

In 1869 (F. Marion, Les Ballons et les voyages aeriens) 
we find the phrase recurring as a descriptive qualifica- 
tion and not as a noun. "La, question est de chercher 
un nouvel engin susceptible de planer et de voler dans 
I'air — un engin plus lourd que Vair.^' But again, in 

1874, in the Illustration (July 25), it appears as a noun. 
It is in an article on the death of De Groof . The full- 
page picture shows him falHng in a machine much like 
the modern aeroplane. In the course of the article, a 
column in length, this machine is referred to only once 
by name. (Note that this is a year before Alphonse 
Brown's use of the word aeroplane.) And then we read: 
''Jamais nous n'avons neglig^ une occasion pour precher 
contre la folie du plus lourd que VairJ' 

Alphonse Brown himself does not avoid this form: 
"Les partisans de la direction des ballons," he says, 

1875, "et les partisans du 'plus lourd que Fair' " [quota- 
tion marks and italics his]. 

Again, in 1876, we find this form, this time as a gen- 
eral term, in Le Technologiste of March 11, in an article 
entitled "La, Locomotion mecanique dans Pair, par M. A. 
Penaud." "L'aviation du plus lourd que Vair/' it says, 
"est resolue en principe dans ses trois formes principales ; 
Faeroplane, Foiseau mecanique et Fhelicoptere, tels sont 
les noms que M. Penaud a donnes a ses appareils." 

And also, in 1881, the Illustration (Sept. 24), in a two- 
page article reviewing G. Masson's U empire de Vair, uses 
the term several times: e.g., "M. Maillard ne croit qu'au 
plus lourd que Vair.^^ But gradually the phrase dis- 
appeared as a name, though it continued in use as a 
quahficative. Without doubt it was its cumbersome- 


ness that kept it from being accepted as the true name of 
the machine. 

But our machine might very well have been called a 
pteroplane or an aeroptere, or possibly by some name made 
from the word helice. For these words emphasize the 
principal differences between it and the balloon. It 
had wings (Gk. Trrepa) and it was propelled by Vhelice, 
Both -ptere and helice were, as a matter of fact, some- 
what used to form various names. In 1865 M. Nadar 
mentions "les petits heUcopteres de MM. de la Landelle 
et d'Amecourt." In 1876 (Penaud) we find, as has just 
been noted, the three principal forms of machines for 
aviation given ^as 'Taeroplane, Foiseau mecanique et 
V helicopter e.'^ In 1881, in the Illustration, G. Tissandier 
refers to certain toys or models as ^'de petits heUcopteres." 
In the end this word became accepted as the name for 
a certain sort of air machine, and still another word, 
orthoptere, was formed on the same stem. In 1908 Ar- 
mengaud says that *'les machines qui doivent realiser 
I'aviation'' are divided into "trois classes de volateurs, 
les orthopteres, les helicopteres et les aeroplanes." There 
is also found the word ornithoptere. U Aviation, by Pain- 
leve et Borel, Paris 1910, says: ''Lors que V orthoptere 
est propulse au Heu de s'elever verticalement sur place, il 
devient ornithoptere, c'est-a-dire que ses ailes attaquent 
Pair obUquement et non plus normalement " (p. 15). 
But for some reason the root ptere was not chosen to 
name the aeroplane. 

The word helice was likewise passed over, although 
we find it somewhat used. We have seen it in the word 
helicopter e. In 1850 Dupuis-Delcourt speaks of ''la 
machine helicoide de Blanchard," ^ and in 1864 the word 

' Nouveau Manuel d' Aerostation, p. 79. According to the plate 
to which the author refers us this was an ordinary balloon. 


was used in the Illustration to designate generally the 
whole (as yet unnamed) science of aviation — '' . . . do 
proclamer Finanite du ballon et de promettre I'avenir 
de VheliceJ' Thus we see that either of these stems 
stood ready for use in 1875, but both were passed by. 
Yet it is idle to speculate in this way. Aeroplane was the 
word that was proposed and selected. 

Once advanced it found fairly ready acceptance. It is 
true that we find Le Monde illustre in December, 1876, 
failing to recognize it, and publishing an article of a 
column in length on "le nouvel homme oiseau," never 
using either the word aviation or aeroplane, but instead 
of the latter, machine a voter. But already, in March 
of the same year, Le Technologiste had used the word as 
the definite name of one of the three principal machines 
''de I'aviation du plus lourd que I'air: V aeroplane, I'oi- 
seau mecanique et I'helicoptere, tels sont les noms que 
M. Penaud a donne a ses appareils " (quoted above). 
And from that time on the word was apparently estab- 

Yet, like so many other words of this sort, the word 
aeroplane has met with violent objection. First of all, 
it is stigmatized as a hybrid, part Greek and part French. 
But worse than this, it is said to be barbarous in its 
very succession of sounds. M. Meillet, in "Lsi Crise de 
la langue frangaise" {Revue bleue, Sept. 1903), voices a 
widely held opinion when he inveighs against it as ''con- 
traire en tous points au genie du frangais, avec son hia- 
tus hideux de deux voyelles identiques qui se heurtent 
et avec sa longue serie de syllabes ouvertes." Many 
assert that the people refuse to accept the hiatus and 
quite generally change the word to areoplane.^ But I 

8 Nyrop, for example, says (I, p. 398) that areostat is heard for 
aerostat, possibly under the influence of areopage. 


have never found this form in print, as is not unusual 
in Italian. Perhaps the success of the more or less closely 
duphcate form avion is a subtle slur on the awkwardness 
of the word aeroplane. As an effort towards something 
more French than aeroplane, avion is a word, says Meillet 
{ibid.), ''qui a du moins un aspect frangais." But he 
proceeds to counteract this faint praise by continuing: 
''mais qui est le derive d'un mot latin et dont la forma- 
tion est inintelhgible a un Frangais qui est ignorant du 
latin." An American writer, in an editorial in the 
New York Times (Nov. 15, 1915), is more enthusiastic. 
He says: 

''An indication, and not the first, that the French are 
either more skillful or more fortunate than their neighbors 
as inventors of names for new things is to be found in the 
word 'avion,' recently manufactured and now in common 
use by them for application to the machine which we and 
other peoples are still calling — when we have time — by 
the almost intolerably awkward name of 'aeroplane.' [This 
was written before the apparently increasingly successful 
attempt to introduce into English the form airplane.^ 

"The French name is exactly right. It pleases both the 
eye and the ear, it is perfect in construction, and it carries 
the essential, all-important and only distinctive idea of bird- 
like flight — a significance that is wholly lacking from 
'aeroplane.' There are probably a dozen, possibly a score, 
of other devices that are 'aeroplanes' just as much as is 
the one we so denominate. Among them are windmills, 
kites, weather vanes, and sails. 

"Another objection to 'aeroplane' is that it demands an 
accent so far from its end that our linguistic instinct, or 
sense of verbal rightness and propriety, is offended by the 
request, and most of us insist on stressing the antepenult 
and letting it go at that. 'Avion' has no such faults and it 
is as good English as French, now that it has been revealed 
to us." 


''But it is perhaps too late, alas ! for us to change, and 
the chances are that we shall continue, though not gladly, 
to suffer 'aeroplane,' just as we do the even worse word 
'automobile.' " 

The word avion was used as early as 1897 by Ader • 
and was for a time a name given to his particular ma- 
chine. More lately it has come to be used especially of 
military machines. Larousse says (May, 1913): "nom 
donne aux aeroplanes affectes au service des armees." 
Whether it will continue in this restricted sense or whether 
its apphcation will be broadened until it comes to re- 
place aeroplane, as its admirers doubtless hope, will be 
interesting to see. It has already produced the forms 
hydravion or hydroavion and avionnerie}^ 

But the word aeroplane shows Httle inclination to 
withdraw. If aerostat has been able to maintain itself, 
though containing the same hiatus, why cannot aero- 
plane f The element aero-, in spite of this grave fault, 
appears to be vigorous in producing words. As early 
as 1863, fully twelve years before the word aeroplane 
is found, the Illustration gives evidence that there was 
a tendency to use this element for new compounds. It 
describes (Oct. 10) a machine called "balance aero- 
hydrostatique." Again, in 1873 (Feb. 8), it describes 
a machine for carrying air to the lungs of a person going 
into an infected mine, and it uses for a name the word 
aerophores. Both these instances occurred before the 
appearance of the word aeroplane. 

After 1875 the same thing continued. In 1876 
(Feb. 19) the Illustration described "la chaine aerhydrique 
de sauvetage de M. ToselU, pour les navires naufrages." 
In 1879 the word aeroscope was proposed. Larousse 
adds, in the first supplement, as new words made with 

' Larousse. ^° Larousse, May, 1913. 


this element: aerocele (med.), aerodrome, aeronat (from 
natare), aerophagie (med.), aerophotometrie, aeropiSzie 
(med.), aeropiesisme (med.), aeroplethysmographe (med.), 
aerotropisme (bioL). 

The word aeromobile was used of Santos Dumont's 
machine, which was made in 1906.^^ In 1907-10 La- 
rousse adds the following: aerocyclette, aeromotocydette, 
aerothermique (used of a refrigerator car), aerologue (cf. 
philologue), aerothermogene (instrument for producing 
hot air), aerothermotherapie, aeronavigation, aerotechnigue, 
and, produced from other elements used in aviation 
words, hydroplane and aviabilite. The Dictionary of 
Aviation, by R. M. Pierce, contains many scores of 
words formed with the elements aero-, avi-, -plane, etc. 
But these, of course, like most of those we have men- 
tioned from Larousse, are in no sense in the popular 

In fact the element aero- seems to have had from the 
first a firm position. The principal terms of the science, 
those which are most fundamental and inclusive, have 
been made with this element. It was chosen early, in 
fact in the very beginning, in 1783, and used in the new 
word aerostat. It was chosen a second time in 1875, 
nearly a hundred years later, when a new development 
of the science called for an important new addition to 
the terminology, that is, when the word aeroplane was 

Let us review briefly the career of this word-element. 
In Greek it was used to some extent for forming com- 
pounds, though not nearly so extensively as the element 
auto-. Liddell and Scott's Lexicon gives some thirty 
words formed with it. Curiously enough, there were 
at least eight among these that would have done admi- 
rably as names for the aeroplane had fate decreed their 
" A. F. Zahm, Aerial Navigation, p. 257. 


choice. They were depodLvrjs, wheeUng in air; depodpo/jLos, 
traversing the air; depovrjxvs, floating in air; depoireTTjs, 
flying, winged; aepoiropos, traversing the air; depoTOfxos, 
clearing the air; aepdcfyoiTos, roaming in the air, and 
aepoirXavos, which has already been discussed. 

When we come to Latin we find (very much as we did 
in the case of the Greek element avTo-) that the stem 
aer- was little used for compounds, giving only aerius, 
aeroides 'oi the color of air,' aeromantia ^aeromancy,' 
aerophohos 'one that fears the air.' Even these, except 
possibly aerius, are mere transliterations of Greek words. 
So we see that this element was not a popular one in 
Latin. Possibly this is because aes, aeris 'bronze,' gave 
a similar compounding element, as for example, in aeripes 
'bronze-footed,' and desire to avoid confusion imposed 
the neglect of one or the other series of compounds. 

In the French vocabulary, before the introduction of 
the word aerostat in 1783, we find that the element aero- 
was known and somewhat used. Aside from aerer and 
aerien the Dictionary of the Academy for 1776 (Lyons) 
gives aerographie, aeromancie, aerometre and aerometrie. 
Then (just as we saw happen in the case of the element 
auto-) aero- began in the nineteenth century to be more 
and more used for compounding purposes. By the time 
we reach 1873 we find Littre's dictionary giving twenty- 
seven words, as follows: aerage, aerer, aerien, aerifere 
(voyez aerien), aeriforme, aerographie, aerolithe, aerologie, 
aeromancie, aerometre, aerometrie, aeronaute, aerostat, 
aerostation, aerostatique, all of which are found also in 
the Dictionary of the Academy of 1884; and in addition 
aericole (a plant or animal living in air), aerification 
(chem.), aeriser (phys.), aerodynamique (phys.), aero- 
mancien, aeromel (mel, 'honey'), aeronautique, aerophobe, 
aerophobie, aerophore (qui porte Pair), aerifere (anat.), 
aerosphere (atmosphere, phys.), aerostier. In his sup- 


plement (1877) he adds the following seven: aerateur 
(grenier aerateur), aerhydrique, aerohie (biol.), aeronaval 
(machine aeronavale), aeronef, aerophyte (bot.), aerothera- 
pie. This makes a total of thirty-four words. 

By 1914, according to the testimony of the Larousse 
dictionary and supplements, there are found over a 
hundred words, many of them it is true purely scientific, 
but many also in popular use.^^ 

We have now seen in detail three examples of the proc- 
ess of selecting or creating new names for new objects, 
having studied the methods by which the railroad, the 
automobile, and the aeroplane were christened. It is 
unnecessary to go through the same investigation for 
other similar objects — the steamboat, the telegraph, the 
phonograph, and many others that readily suggest them- 
selves. For the three cases we have studied have dif- 
fered among themselves, it seems evident, in details 
rather than in principle, and it is hardly likely that trac- 
ing the selection of the name bateau a vapeur or telegraphe 
would reveal anything new. Therefore we will close this 
portion of our study and allow these three cases to stand 
as representative of the first type of conscious word- 
formation; that is to say, the type that is conscious only 
to a certain degree. It is more conscious, for example, 
than the selection of a word like table or maison can ever 
have been, but not by any means so artificially inten- 
tional as the examples we shall consider in the next two 
chapters, where we shall discuss two deliberate efforts 
in the construction of a carefully coordinated special 
vocabulary, viz., the Republican calendar and the metric 

^2 It is to be noted that there is a slight confusion possible in 
considering this element because both the Greek a-qp and the Latin 
aer give the same result in French compounds. But this is unim- 
portant since the growth in both cases is really one and the same. 

Nomenclature of the Republican Calendar 

We come now to two sets of terminology which are 
more frankly conscious inventions than those of either 
the railroad, the automobile, or the science of aeronaut- 
ics; namely, the RepubUcan calendar and the metric 
system. The three terminologies we have already con- 
sidered grew up rapidly but naturally and without defi- 
nite intention on the part of any individual creator. 
The two sets of terms that we shall now study were the 
outcome of dehberate construction on the part of their 
authors. They will give us the opportunity to study this 
type of word-formation under the most favorable con- 
ditions. The Republican calendar failed to prevail; 
the metric terminology, on the other hand, though ob- 
jected to as much as the calendar, did obtain, and seems 
destined to ever widening adoption. ^ This is, of course, 
due to their comparative merits as systems and not in 
any way to the respective claims of the mere words 

In considering these two series of terms we are dealing 
with alterations not merely of sets of names but rather 
of the systems underlying them. Our reformers were 
not simply renaming the days and months, the weights 
and measures; they were making new divisions of time 
and new units of measurement, and then naming these 
new divisions and units. It is therefore sometimes diffi- 

1 See Chapter V. 


cult to disentangle the discussions of the merits of the 
systems themselves from the discussions of the suita- 
biUty of the terminologies involved. The case of the 
calendar, however, was more purely a question of names 
than was that of the weights and measures. This proba- 
bly is an additional reason why the calendar words in 
question failed to survive. 

The men of the Convention Nationale attached great 
importance, perhaps an exaggerated importance, to the 
change in the names of the calendar. Why? To their 
way of thinking, reHgious fanaticism, by labeling the 
days with the names of saints and with impUcations of 
rehgious dogma and beUef, had done much to inculcate 
insidiously in the minds of the people certain objection- 
able ideas. In fact the calendar amounted to one of the 
most influential text-books of propaganda possessed by 
the church. This advantage was now to be transferred 
from the hands of the clergy to the hands of the Rev- 
olutionists. M. Romme, chairman of the committee 
constituted by the Convention to recast the national cal- 
endar, was most insistent upon the importance of this. 
"Tout ce qui rappelle l^aire [ere] reHgieuse; tous les 
noms et les usages du calendrier seraient aboHs," he 
declares in his report. "Chaque jour porterait un nom 
consacre par la Revolution." ^ In reply to objections to 
his terminology and demands for the substitution of a 
less characteristic one, he exclaims: ''Mais aussi vous 
n'imprimerez pas a votre calendrier le cachet moral 
et revolutionnaire qui le fera passer aux siecles a 
venir." ^ 

Romme's ideas were found to be too extreme. They 
did not prevail. The set of names devised by Fabre 

2 Moniteur universel, Sept. 22, 1793, reporting the meeting of 
the Convention of Sept. 20. 

3 Mon., Oct. 7, 1793. 


d' Eglantine which was finally adopted did not incul- 
cate revolutionary doctrine. They did, however, abolish 
what was considered the ecclesiastical bias of the cal- 
endar, and thus Romme's idea was partially triumphant. 

La Nation Frangaise, opprimee, avilie, pendant un grand 
nombre de siecles par le despotisme le plus insolent, s'est 
enfin elev^e au sentiment de ses droits et de la puissance 
a laquelle ses destinees Fappellent. Chaque jour . . . elle 
s'epure de tout ce qui la souille ou Tentrave dans sa marche 
. . . Elle veut que sa regeneration soit complette . . . Bien- 
t6t les arts vont etre appeles a de nouveaux progres par 
Tuniformite des poids et mesures . . . Les arts et I'histoire, 
pour qui le terns est un Element necessaire, demandent aussi 
une nouvelle mesure de la dur^e, d^gag^e de toutes les er- 
reurs que la cr^dulite et une routine superstitieuse ont 
transmises des siecles d'ignorance jusqu'^ nous. Cette 
nouvelle mesure doit porter a la fois et Fempreinte des: 
lumi^res de la nation, et le caractere de notre Revolution 
par son exactitude, sa simplicity et son d^gagement de toute 
opinion qui ne serait point avouee par la raison et la philoso- 
phic. L'annuaire d'un peuple qui reconnait la hbert6 des 
cultes doit etre ind^pendant de toute opinion et de toute 
pratique religieuse.^ 

These were the principles upon which the renaming, 
of the calendar was undertaken. 

In the report of another subsequent '^commission 
chargee de la confection du calendrier/' a report made by 
the above mentioned P. F. N. Fabre d'Eglantine (whose 
terminology was finally adopted), we find again empha- 
sized the need of a calendar unsoiled by reminders of 
the doings of royalty.^ The mere words lundi, janvier, 
etc., were so suggestive, it seems, of the oppressions 
and extortions that in the past had saddened the 

^ Mon., Dec. 17, 1793 (vol. IX), Instructions sur T^re de la. 

5 Mon., Dec. 18, 1793 (vol. IX). 


days and made heavy the months which they named^ 
that these words were not to be tolerated longer, 
but must be dropped into oblivion Uke the pangs of a 

As it was with the association of political ideas, so it 
was with reUgious. 

Une longue habitude du calendrier gr^gorien a rempli la 
m^moire du Peuple d'images qu'il a long-tems r^v^r^es et qui 
font encore la source de ses erreurs religieuses. II est n^cessaire 
de substituer k ces visions de Fignorance, les realit^s de la raison, 
et au prestige sacerdotal, la v^rit^ de la nature.^ 

Fabre, however, did not, as did Romme, wish to im- 
pose a "tableau moral" upon the calendar. He was 
content with the less striking aim ''de ramener par le 
calendrier le peuple a Fagriculture." He recognizes the 
cleverness of the church in arranging the various saints' 
days at the most impressionable seasons. ''L'idee qui 
nous a servi de base," he says, ''est de consacrer par 
le calendrier le systeme agricole et d'y ramener la 
nation." ^ 

The system proposed by him and finally adopted was 
as follows. The words an, annee, mois, jour, were re- 
tained; a period of ten days, called a decade, was sub- 
stituted for the week of seven days, and the word 
semaine (Lat. septimana) was suppressed. 

Les ^ trois premiers mois de Tannic, qui composent Tau- 
tomne, prennent leur etymologic, le premier des vendanges 
qui ont lieu de septembre en octobre: ce mois se nomme 
vendemiaire : le second des brouillards et des brumes basses 
qui sont, si je puis m'exprimer ainsi, la trasudation de la 
nature d'octobre en novembre: ce mois se nomme brumaire; 
le troisieme, du froid, tantot sec, tantot humide qui se fait 
sentir de novembre en d^cembre : ce mois se nomme frimaire. 
6 Mon., Dec. 18, 1793 (vol. IX). 


Les trois mois de I'hiver prennent leur ^tymologie: le 
premier, de la neige qui blanchit la terre de d^cembre en 
Janvier: ce mois se nomme nivose. Le second, des pluies 
qui tombent generalement avec plus d'abondance de Janvier 
en fevrier: ce mois se nomme pluvidse. Le troisieme, des 
giboulees qui ont lieu, et du vent qui vient secher la terre 
de fevrier en mars: ce mois se nomme ventose. 

Les trois mois du printems prennent leur etymologie: le 
premier, de la fermentation et du developpement de la 
seve de mars en avril: ce mois se nomme germinal. Le 
second, de I'epanouissement des fieurs d'avril en mai: ce 
mois se nomme floreal. Le troisieme, de la fecondite riante 
et de la r^colte des prairies de mai en juin: ce mois se nomme 
prairial. [sometimes, praireal] 

Les trois mois de Fete enfin prennent leur etymologie: 
le premier, de Taspect des ^pis ondoyans et des moissons 
dorees qui couvrent les champs de juin en juillet: ce mois 
se nomme messidor. Le second, de la chaleur tout a la fois 
solaire et terrestre, qui embrase Tair de juillet en aotit^ ce 
mois se nomme thermidor.^ Le troisieme, des fruits que le 
soleil dore et miirit d'aout en septembre: ce mois se nomme 

As to the etymological form of the new words, the 
critics have easily pointed out their weaknesses. While 
Vendemiaire, Brumaire, Nivose, Ventose, Pluviose, Ger- 
minal and Floreal are correct enough from the philologi- 
cal point of view, Frimaire is somewhat fantastic, the 
three ending in -dor are hybrids, and Prairial (or Pre- 
^ real as it was sometimes spelled), being of French deriva- 
tion, violates the unity of the -al sequence, which in 
intent seems Latin.'' But as created vocables they have 
been accounted veritable works of art. Who can deny 
their beauty, their music, their sonority, their elegance? 
"Veritables trouvailles d'un poete," Professor Brunot 

^ In one pamphlet at least this month was called fervidor. 

' See discussion in Darmesteter, Creation actuelle, p, 190, Note 1. 


calls them, ^'heureusement appropries aux saisons";^ 
''exemple de rharmonie naturelle des sons utilises dans 
la creation de mots nouveaux/' says Nyrop.^ 

For the names of the days of the decade there may well 
be less enthusiasm. Primidi, Duodi, Tridi, Quartidi, 
Quintidi, Sextidi, Septidi, Octidi, Nonidi, Decadi are 
obviously less inspired, less spontaneously successful, 
more frozen in the classic mold of the so-called mots 
savants. Yet their very formal and colorless character 
was intentional. It was explained and defended by 

"Nous avons pens6 qu'a I'instar du calendrier gr^gorien, 
dont les sept jours de la semaine portent rempreinte de 
I'astrologie judiciaire (prejuge ridicule qu'il faut rejeter), 
nous devious creer des noms pour chacun des jours de la 
decade; nous avons pens6 que puisque ces noms se r^pe- 
taient 36 fois par an, il fallait les priver d'images, qui, locales 
par leur essence, demeureraient sans rapport avec les 36 
stations de chacun de ces noms; enfin, nous nous sommes 
appergus que ce serait un grand appui pour la m^moire, si 
nous venions a bout, en distinguant les noms des jours des 
riombres ordinaux, de conserver neanmoins les significations 
de ces nombres dans un mot compost, de sorte que nous 
puissions profiter tout a la fois dans le meme mot, et des 
nombres, et d'un nom different des nombres." ^° 

Which is perhaps after all wise restraint. 

But these names of Fabre 's were not the only ones 
proposed and considered. In 1793 Romme offered a set 
which was rejected by the Convention. There should 
also be mentioned those of Mahier, of Riboud (1785), 
of Mar^chal (1788) — which apparently were unofficial 
but became more or less known — a second set of Mare- 

8 Petit de Julleville, VII, 842. » Nyrop, IV § 8. 

10 Mon., Dec. 18, 1793 (vol. IX). 


chal's proposed in 1793, and numerous other suggestions 
in the frequent ahnanacs. 

Mahier advanced certain variations on Fabre's names, 
bringing them more into conformity with current French 
forms.^^ For the months, instead of Vendemiaire he 
suggested Vinaire or Vendangiaire; instead of Nivose, 
Neigiose; instead of Floreal, Fleurial; instead of Messi- 
dor and Fervidor, Moissonor and Flammidor. Fructidor 
he retained. For the days he substituted jour-un, jour- 
deux, etc., which are surely even more prosaic than 
Primidi, Duodi, etc. 

Earher than this, in 1785, Riboud, ancien procureur 
du roi at Bourg en Bresse, had pubhshed an ahnanac, 
Etrennes litteraires ou Ahnanach offert aux amis de Vhuma- 
nite. In this he replaced the saints' names of the religious 
calendar by the names of great characters in profane 
history. Columelle was made to preside over the fete 
df agriculture, J. J. Rousseau over the fete des dmes sensi- 
hles, Scarron over the fete des malades agreahles, Newton 
over the fete de Vunivers, etc. 

Pierre Sylvain Marechal, in his Almanack des honnetes 
gens (1787-88, 1791, 1792), proposed for March, which 
began the 'Ere de la Raison,' the name, Princeps; for 
May, Alter; and for the other months Ter, Quartile, 
Quintile, etc. His festival days were marked by such 
names as: de I'Amour, de I'Hymenee, de la Reconnais- 
sance, de TAjnitie, a tous les Grands Hommes Aemeres 
(that is, whose birthdays were unknown, Gk. d + i7Mepa, 
without a day). Like Riboud and all the other compilers 
of almanacs, he replaced the saints' names by those of 
great men in general, though from these he did not omit 
Christ. The following is a specimen of his calendar: ^^ 

" Briinot in P. de Julleville, VII, 842, note. 
^- La Revoluiion frangaise, VII, 538. "Etude sur le calendrier 


Avril ou Alter 

1. Bayard 16. J. Cassini 

2. Harvey, Vinflow 17. Proclus, Ozanam 

3. Jesus-Christ 18. Lainez 

4. Jouvenet 19. Christine 

5. Hobbes 20. M. Cervantes 

6. Socrate 21. Numa Pompilius 

7. Platon 22. J. Racine 

8. Cheviller 23. Peyronie 

9. Bacon, Wolf 24. Vincent de Paul 

10. Grotius, Tindall 25. Louis IX 

11. Deslandes 26. Marc-Aurele 

12. Bossuet, Young 27. Le Prince Eugene 

13. Mecene 28. Shakespear 

14. Handel 29. Abb^ de St-Pierre 

15. Pindare, Tasse 30. Lucain, Seneque 

This calendar is often considered to have formed the basis 
of that proposed by Romme's committee and finally 
accepted, — all but the names — by the Convention. But 
as all the numerous almanacs had calendars of about the 
same sort, it is difficult to say that any particular one 
was the direct inspiration of Romme's and Fabre's. 

In the Almanack des Repuhlicains (1793), Marechal 
gave a new set of names for the months, as follows, begin- 
ning with January: La Loi, Le Peuple, Les Peres, Les 
Epoux, Les Amants, Les Meres de Famille, Les Hommes 
Libres, Les Republicains, Les Egaux, La Raison, Les 
Eons Voisinages, Les Amis.^^ Traces of some of these 
will appear in Ronmie's designations. 

Also, in 1793, another attempt was essayed in Le Calen- 
drier du Peuple Franc, redige par une societe de philan- 
thropes. This too made the usual substitution of secular 
celebrities, and proposed the following names of months : " 

" Idem, VIII, 624. " Idem, VIII, 628. 


Janvier mois des Frimats 


" civique ou du Serment 


' de la Libert^ 


' des Fleurs 


* de la Verdure 


' du Peuple 


' de la Revolution 


' de rfigalite 


' de la Retraite 


' des Vendanges (a favorite with all) 


des Victoires 


" du Proces {i.e., de Louis Capet) 

It was perhaps from the '^ Frimats" and '' Vendanges'' 
of the above list that Fabre received a suggestion for his 
corresponding names. This calendar left untouched the 
names of the days of the week, except the two ''qui rap- 
pellent Tfighse et la Synagogue, savoir le dimanche et le 
samedi. lis leur donnent des noms de planetes comme 
aux autres jours de la semaine: ces (sic) sont les Di- 
herschel (Herschel etait alors le nom de la nouvelle 
planete appelee depuis Uranus), et Disaturne." ^^ 

These are but a few of the many proposals that swarmed 
in the various almanacs of the time. This form of writing 
was very popular and very general. The almanacs are 
not of special significance except as they show a wide- 
spread interest in a change of the calendar and a general 
desire for it. They do, at any rate here and there, show 
us where Fabre and Romme got suggestions which were 
incorporated into the finally accepted calendar. And 
they make clear that the RepubKcan calendar was after 
all a growth rather than an altogether sudden creation. 

it was with the respective proposals of Romme and 
Fabre, however, that these attempts first had official 
recognition. The question had come up officially in 

" Idem, VIII, 628. 


1792 in connection with the coinage. The government 
felt constrained to make some response to the very gen- 
eral popular interest in the subject. A committee was 
accordingly appointed, of which Romme was made chair- 
man. The names proposed in their report, Sept. 20, 
1793, were as follows.^^ The first month, March 20 to 
April 20, was called Regeneration, the others Reunion, 
Jeu de Paume, Bastille, Peuple, Montague, RepubHque, 
Unite, Fraternite, Liberte, Justice, EgaUte. The days 
of the decade were: 

1. Le Jour du Niveau, symbole de I'^galite 

2. " '' du Bonnet, symbole de la liberte 

3. " " de la Cocarde, couleurs nationales 

4. " " de la Pique, arme de Thomme libre 

5. " " de la Charrue, instrument de nos richesses 


6. Le Jour du Compas, instrument de nos richesses indus- 


7. Le Jour du Faisceau, symbole de la force qui nait de 


8. Le Jour du Canon, instrument de nos victoires 

9. " '' du Chene, embleme de la generation et symbole 

des vertus sociales 
10. Le Jour du Repos. 

These names are undoubtedly imbued with patriotism, 
but it would seem that the members of the Convention 
felt the need of something more than patriotism, or at 
least something other than patriotism, for they refused 
to accept the Hsts proposed. And when one thinks of a 
date such, for example, as "Charrue, le 4 Jeu de Paume," 
or "Canon, le 5 Fraternite," one is perhaps disposed to 
feel that they were right. It is of some significance that 
the chairman whose proposals were rejected is listed in 
the biographical index of the Moniteur as "cultivateur 
15 Buchez et Roux, XXIX, 7. 


a Gimeaux, ancien professeur de mathematique et phy- 
sique.'^ Finding that a ''cultivateur et professeur de 
mathematique" had not the qualifications necessary for 
producing new names of months and days, to whom 
did they turn? To a poet. And strangely enough — 
or shall we say naturally enough? — they were satisfied 
with the names the poet offered and they accepted them. 
It may be unwarranted to generalize from this that for 
the creation of words the poetic quality is in some degree 
necessary, but the fact here recorded is at least an inter- 
esting one. 

The trend of the philological discussion engaged in 
at the time of the presentation of Romme's report de- 
serves to be indicated. It centered mainly upon the 
question whether the names should be the so-called moral 
ones or merely numerical. From the beginning Fabre 
took part in the debate and stood up for agricultural 
names. For a time both his idea and that of Romme 
were rejected, and the numerical system of designation 
temporarily prevailed. But this decision was recon- 
sidered, Fabre's original suggestion was later adopted and 
he was appointed to give effect to his idea. 

Romme's report was discussed at a seance of the 
Convention Nationale on Oct. 5, 1793.^^ When Romme 
proposed the "denominations morales a donner aux 
mois, aux decades et aux jours," a member, Duhem, im- 
mediately objected that if they accepted this system they 
would soon find themselves in the same condition as the 
Pope, who has used up all his days and has no place in 
reserve for any new saints that may appear. Duhem 
proposed '*la denomination ordinale, qui est plus simple.'' 

"Votre calendrier," he continued, ''qui n'eAt et4 que 
celui de la Nation Frangaise, deviendra celui de tous les 

^® The full report is given in the Moniteur, Oct. 7, 1793. 


peuples. lis ne s'^carteront jamais de I'ordre num^rique 
qui est celui de la nature. 

"Le peuple (ceux que Pinstruction n'a pas encore 6elaires) 
est toujours port6 vers une superstition quelconque; il 
<;herche toujours k r^aliser les idees m^taphysiques qu'on 
lui pr^sente. Vous voyez quel exemple les figyptiens ont 
donn6 au monde. Les hieroglyphes ne retragaient d'abord 
k leurs yeux que des ^poques m^morables. Bientot des 
imposteurs, s'^rigeant en ministres du ciel, firent de ces 
signes une science particuli^re et des objets sacr^s qu'ils 
offrirent k Fadoration des peuples. Ainsi la nation la plus 
sage de Tantiquite devint par ses ridicules superstitions la 
fable du monde. 

"Craignez, a son exemple, de fournir un aliment k la sot- 
tise des fanatiques k venir. Craignez qu'ils ne se servent 
un jour des emblemes dont vous surchargez votre calen- 
drier pour en faire I'objet d'un culte superstitieux. Je vote 
pour nommer les divisions du temps par leur ordre nume- 
rique. Alors votre calendrier philosophique pourra devenir 
la base de la Republique Universelle." (Applaudissements.) 

ROMME. "Mais aussi vous n'imprimerez pas k votre 
calendrier le cachet moral et r^volutionnaire qui le fera 
passer aux siecles k venir." 

DUHEM. "II est vrai qu'il ne pr^sentera pas un tableau 
moral. Mais etes-vous stirs que ce tableau serait juge tel 
par notre posterite, dont les idees seront plus saines et les 
moeurs plus pures que celles de la generation pr^sente? 
Etes-vous stirs qu'il ne servirait pas un jour de canevas aux 
sottises que les pr^tres civiques et inciviques pourraient y 
attacher? Citoyens, n'avez-vous pas vu d^j^ les pretres 
constitutionnels vouloir religionner notre Revolution? J'in- 
siste sur ma proposition." 

N . . . " Je consens k la suppression des noms revolution- 
naires; mais je demande que Ton adopte les designations 
morales, parce que la morale est de tous les temps et de 
tous les pays." 

DUHEM. "Quel est Thomme qui pent me repondre que 
le mot de justice, appliqu6 a tel mois, ne lui deviendra pas 


un jour incompatible par quelque ^v^nement extraordi- 

FOUKCROY. "Si vous laissez la nomenclature en blanc, 
les aristocrates et les f anatiques la rempliront k leur maniere 
et vous doublerez le mal que Duhem veut 6viter." 

ALBiTTE. ''J'appuie cette proposition. Si jamais la liberty 
perit, toutes nos institutions periront avec elle; mais elle 
doit r^gner ^ternellement. II faut done que les enfants 
apprennent a prononcer les noms de toutes les vertus qui 
doivent la conserver. Je demande que le tableau moral 
soit conserve." 

ROMME. "J'appuie cette proposition. II faut que cha- 
que jour rappelle aux citoyens la revolution qui les a rendus 
libres, et que leurs sentiments civiques se raniment en lisant 
cette nomenclature eloquente." 

L'Assembl^e ferme la discussion et adopte les denomina- 
tions morales. 

The question seems decided. But Romme's triumph is 

He proceeds, "Le premier jour est celui des ^poux." 

"Tons les jours sont les jours des epoux!" interrupts 
Albitte. On applaudit. This reopens the discussion. 

LEBON. "Cette reflexion doit vous faire sentir le ridi- 
cule de quelques-unes de ces denominations, et vous de- 
terminer a les abandonner toutes. D'ailleurs la diflicult^ 
de surcharger sa memoire de tant de noms fera conserver 
les anciens et vous aurez manque votre but. Je demande 
que TAssembl^e, rapportant son d^cret, s'en tienne a la 
denomination ordinale." 

SUGENT. "Je m'oppose a cette demande. Notre imagi- 
nation ne trouve du ridicule a ces noms que par un jeu 
frivole; nos enfants s'y accoutumeront mieux que nous, 
et n'y trouveront rien de ridicule. Cette nomenclature a 
seule le rare avantage de classer clairement les idees morales 
et revolutionnaires que doivent ch^rir tons les hommes." 

L'Assemblee rapporte son premier d^cret, et se determine 
pour la denomination ordinale des mois, des decades et des 


fabre-d'eglantine. " Je propose de donner a chaque jour 
le nom des plantes que produit alors la nature et des ani- 
maux utiles. Ce serait un moyen d'instruction publique. 
Je demande que le Comite soit charge d'examiner cette 

DUHEM. ''J'observe k Fabre que les objections que j'ai 
faites contre le tableau moral, pourraient etre reproduites 
contre sa proposition." 

L'Assemblee passe a I'ordre du jour sur la proposition 
de Fabre. 

Les autres articles du pro jet sont adopt^s avec de legers 
amendemens. (Nous les donnerons apres que leur redac- 
tion definitive aura ^te adoptee.) 

The promise was apparently not fulfilled till Dec. 17, 
1793, when the ''Instructions sur TEre de la RepubUque " 
(see p. 99) were given; and Dec. 18, when there fol- 
lowed the report of Fabre, giving the names as they were 
finally adopted. The basic idea of Fabre's calendar, as 
he says, is to consecrate the agricultural system and to 
lead the nation to it. After giving the names, he con- 
tinues : 

"II resulte de ces denominations que, par la seule pro- 
nonciation du nom on sentira trois choses et tous leurs 
rapports, le genre de saison ou il se trouve, la temperature 
et I'etat de la vegetation. Par le mot germinal il se peindra 
a rimagination par la terminaison, que le printems com- 
mence; par la construction et Timage que presente le mot, 
que les agences elementaires travaillent; par la signification 
du mot, que les germes se developpent. 

"Le defaut du calendrier tel que vous Favez decret^ est 
de ne signaler les jours, les decades, les mois et Tannee que 
par une meme denomination, par les nombres ordinaux; de 
sorte que le chiffre 1, qui n'offre qu'une quantite abstraite 
et point d'image, s'applique egalement a Tannee, au mois, 
au decade et au jour. II a fallu dire le ler jour de la Ire 
decade du ler mois de la Ire annee, locution abstraite, s^che, 


vide d'idees, p^nible par sa prolixity et confuse dans Fusage 
civil, surtout apres Thabitude du calendrier gr^gorien." 

It is possible that Fabre exaggerated the power of 
suggestion, on the mind of the ordinary man, of the vari- 
ous syllables and suffixes of the names proposed by him. 
But his objection to the numerical notation seems justi- 
fied. He continues by explaining his reasons for select- 
ing numerical names such as Primidi for the days. (See 
above, p. 101.) 

He then describes at great length how he selected the 
names of the months, and an animal or a farming imple- 
ment for each day, in order to teach the people when the 
various events in agricultural life occur. 

"Les pretres avaient assigne h chaque jour la com- 
memoration d'un pretendu saint; ce catalogue ne pre- 
sentait ni utilite ni methode; il etait le repertoire du 
mensonge, de la duperie et du charlatanisme." So he 
apphed this idea to better ends. "A chaque quintidi 
[5, 15, 25 of the month] est insere un animal domestique. 
Chaque decadi est marque par le nom d'un instrument 
aratoire." And other days the same. Nivose being a 
month of cold with no plants, Fabre put as names for 
its days 'les productions, les substances utiles a Fagri- 

"II reste a vous parler,'^ he continues, ''des jours 
d'abord nommes epagomenes, ensuite, compUmentairesJ' 
They were also called surajoutes. These names we have 
not yet mentioned. In all the different calendars offered, 
the divisions of ten caused five days to be left over in 
each year. In MarechaFs calendar these days were 
named epagomenes (Gk. kirdyo), ''to intercalate")-^^ Iii 
Romme's scheme they had the same name and were 

" This word does not appear in Feraud's Dictionary, 1787-8. 
In the Die. gen. it is, however, entered as of 1752 (Tr^voux). 


dedicated "a I'adoption, a I'industrie, aux recompenses, 
a la paternite et a la vieillesse." But the vivid imagi- 
nation of Fabre was not satisfied with any word so lack- 
ing in suggestion as epagomene or surajoute. "Ce mot 
(epagomene)," he says, "n'etait que didactique, par con- 
sequent sec, muet pour Timagination; il ne presentait 
au peuple qu'une idee froide, qu'il rend vulgairement par 
la periphrase de ^solde de compte' ou par le barbarisme 
de 'definition.' II fallait pour ces cinq jours une denomi- 
nation collective qui portat un caractere national capable 
d'exprimer la joie et Fesprit du peuple frangais dans les 
cinq jours de fete qu'il celebrera au terme de chaque 

Next comes a very delightful bit in which Fabre ex- 
plains his selection of the word ' sansculottides ' as the 
name for these five days. 

"II nous a paru possible," he says, "et surtout juste, de 
consacrer par un mot nouveau Texpression de sans-culotte 
qui en serait Fetymologie. D'ailleurs, une recherche aussi 
interessante que curieuse, nous apprend que les aristo- 
crates, en pr^tendant nous avilir par 1' expression de sans- 
culotte, n'ont pas eu meme le m^rite de Tinvention." 

He goes on to tell how, even in Roman times, all Gaul 
was divided into GalHa hraccata and Galha non-hraccata, 
which was nothing less than "la Gaule culottee^' and '4a 
Gaule sans-culotte J' "Nos peres etaient des lors des Sans- 
culottes." Hence the originality of the aristocrats in 
making this title disappears. "Nous appellerons done 
les cinq jours coUectivement pris les Sansculottides." 
These five days individually were to be "la fete du genie, 
du travail, des actions, des recompenses, des opinions"; 
or, according to a variant list, ''de la vertu (des vertus), 
du genie, du travail, de Fopinion, des recompenses." 

The general principles of composition that guided him 


in the formation of all his names Fabre gives in the 
following passage : ^^ 

''Nous avons cherch^ a mettre a profit I'harmonie initia- 
tive de la langue dans la composition et la prosodie de ces 
mots." The autumn months ''ont un son grave et une 
mesure moyenne, ceux de I'hiver un son lourd et une mesure 
longue, ceux du printemps un son gai et une mesure breve, 
ceux de Fete un son sonore et une mesure grave." 

On the whole Fabre's principles of word-creation seem 
to be sound and practicable. At least there has been 
general admiration for his products and Httle criticism 
of them. 

But the calendar must no longer be called a calendrier. 
"Le mot calendrier qui vient de calendes serait tres im- 
propre, si un tres long usage ne Favait consacre au 
point de faire oublier son origine. Les mots almanack 
ou annuaire seraient plus exacts." ^^ The word calen- 
drier, however, persisted for some time. In 1798 we 
read in the Moniteur: "Le mot calendrier rappelait 
le peuple degenere et asservi sous la domination papale. 
II n'est pas consacre par notre langue et doit etre change 
en annuaire.'' 20 The law of Aug. 1798, which enforced 
the use of the new system, uses the word annuaire. The 
word decadrier was also used. 

Let us now note the words other than the names of 
the months and days which were introduced by the 
adoption of the calendar. The word calendrier, as we 
have just seen, became officially either annuaire or de- 
cadrier. The only new designation for a division of 
time is decade, probably because the week was the only 
division to undergo alteration. Jour, mois, an, annSe, 

18 Reprinted in Goncourt, Revolution, p. 226 (Nyrop). 

" Man., Dec. 17, 1793, the day before Fabre's report was printed. 

20 Mon., 24 thermidor, an VI (Aug. 11, '98). 


all remained the same in length and in name. Decade 
was a vigorous word and multipUed derivatives rapidly. 
It tonished decadrier, a synonym for annuaire; deca- 
daire, adj. 'bulletin decadaire'; decadien, adj. 'culte 
decadien'; decadin and decadiste, supporter of the new 
calendar; and the quaint se decadiser, 's'endimancher' 
('Madame se decadise/ Mercier). The word decade had 
existed in a restricted use before this time. Feraud 
says of it: *'I1 ne se dit que d'une histoire, dont 
les livres sont partages en dizaines, — les decades de 
Tite Live." It has continued to exist since the Revolu- 
tion and is found in Littre in the general sense of dizaine. 
Another new word was Franciade, the name of a four- 
year period. 

Was this change in the names and arrangement of the 
calendar merely the fad of a few men ? It might appear 
so from the difficulty with which at the outset it gained 
a foothold, and from its final failure. And yet the de- 
mand for such a change seems to have been pretty gen- 
eral. In the first place, the numerous sets of names 
that were proposed, and the frequent appearance of new 
'Almanachs' shows that the agitation was widespread. 
We have other indications of the same demand. In 
1790 (May 17) there appeared in the Moniteur a letter, 
not signed, addressed to M. de Lalande, proposing a 
changed calendar. While the writer of this letter did not 
emphasize the alteration of the names as the main task, 
but rather based his proposal upon the inconvenience 
of making New Year's calls in January as entailed by the 
old system, and the superiority of a calendar that would 
put these visits in the spring, still he at least showed some 
interest in the nomenclature by suggesting ''Ere de 
la Liberte" as the title of the new age. 

The question came up in a more serious form in con- 
nection with the coinage in 1792 (Jan. 4). Here again, 


however, it was not so much a question of names as of 
system. In order to date the coins it was necessary to 
decide officially in what year the new era began. The 
decision that the Year One began with Jan. 1, 1789, and 
not with July 14, 1789, was as far as the matter proceeded. 
We can get some idea of the progress and different 
stages of the annuaire from the dating of the Moniteur 
during this time. But we must remember that the Moni- 
teur followed the official usage and not the popular, and 
that therefore it began to employ the new system earher 
and followed it more consistently than was ever done 
by the people in general. . 

1789 has the old dating. 

1790, July 1, there begins to be added 'seconde ann^e de la 


1791, July 14, 'troisieme ann^e de la liberty.' 

1792, Jan. 5, 'quatrieme ann^e de la hberte.' 

1792, Aug. 21, 'L'an quatrieme de la liberte et premier de 

1792, Sept. 24, 'L'an premier de la Republique Frangaise.' 

1793, Oct. 6, last Gregorian date, the next number bearing 

'16 du premier mois. Tan He de la Republique 

Frangaise.' In the following number there is a short 

notice announcing the change of dating already 

1793, Oct. 28, ' Le 7 du 2^ mois. Tan He de la R^pubhque une 

et indivisible.' 
1793, Oct. 29 is dated 'Octodi F« decade de Brumaire, I'an 

II de la Republique une et indivisible (29 octobre 

1793 vieux stile).' 
1798, Apr. 5, old style dates in parentheses dropped. 
1802, Dec. 21, old style dates begin to be added again. 
1806, Jan. 1, Republican dates dropped. 

We note that the Moniteur began to use the new calendar 
nearly two months before Fabre's report was made to 
the Convention (Dec. 18, 1793). 


From our survey we have perhaps gained a somewhat 
clear idea of the purpose underlying the change of the 
calendar. At first there was a general vague feeling, 
expressed in the numerous almanacs of the time, that 
the great political events that were taking place should 
be staged in settings completely new. There was a desire 
that nothing whatever of the old regime should remain, 
that every institution and department of life should 
reflect and express the new theories. The calendar must 
not be overlooked. It must accord with the rest. In 
the beginning, to abolish the old one was sufficient. 
Gradually, in the minds of many, the idea grew out of 
this negative phase into a positive one. The calendar 
came to be thought of as a powerful means for instilling 
ideas. Should the Church retain control of this or should 
the Repubhc take possession of it? ''Par le nouveau 
calendrier," says CharHer in a speech, Nov. 8, 1793, 
''vous avez voulu tuer le fanatisme." To imbue th^ 
calendar with the spirit of the Revolution, as the Church 
had impregnated it with the spirit of ''fanaticism,'^ now 
became the aim. Romme's commission also boldly an- 
nounced this as its purpose. (See p. 98.) For some 
reason, however, the idea did not continue to prevail 
in the matter of the names of the days and months. 
However desirable the patriotic or "moral" names 
might have been from the point of view of propaganda, 
there was a feeling, more or less vague, that they were 
not really suitable from a practical point of view. It 
seems a marvel of restraint that these men, so ardent, 
should forego what we should expect would seem to them 
a golden opportunity. Subsequent opinion has generally 
agreed that by limiting themselves to Fabre's nonparti- 
san but really highly appropriate nomenclature they 
avoided a temptation to produce what must have been 
a product far inferior to the finally accepted result. 


But even so, the calendar never obtained a real foot- 
hold, successful as its names were in themselves. The 
people refused to use it. Legal documents and official 
papers, the Moniteur, and letters of the patriots who 
were in the thick of poHtical life, were dated by it. But 
never were shopkeepers' announcements or fairs and 
market days given out in its unaccustomed terms. Out- 
side of Paris it had no vogue whatever, even when first 
promulgated. As early as Aug. 3, 1795, less than two 
years after its official adoption, a petition to suppress it 
was presented to the Convention. The author of this 
petition "motive sa demande sur ce que personne dans 
les campagnes ne veut Femployer; qu'il jette de Tem- 
barras dans les affaires et entrave toutes les relations 

''Plusieurs membres demandent I'ordre du jour.'' 

Another member, Boisseu, rises to support the peti- 
tion. *'Je ne sais pas pourquoi on demande I'ordre du 
jour sur cette reclamation, car enfin, tot ou tard, il faudra 
finir par jeter au feu un calendrier dont personne ne veut. 
(Murmures.) J'ai parcouru plusieurs departemens, et 
partout j'ai vu ce que je viens d'avancer tout a I'heure." 

A third member says this is a mistake, that although 
made by "des hommes peu estimables," the calendar 
is good. ''II s'agit de la chose et non des hommes." 
L'ordre du jour est adopte.^^ 

Although this attempt to suppress the calendar failed, 
the objections persisted. Within two weeks, on Aug. 17, 
1795, the Bonne Nouvelle section presented a petition 
demanding the abolition not only of the calendar but of 
the new weights and measures as well. In this it is 
asserted that ''le nouveau (calendrier) n'est connu qu'a 
Paris, il nous isolent de toutes les autres nations." (Vio- 
lens murmures.) '' Viendra-t-on nous dire que nous som- 
21 Mon., Aug. 3, 1795 (an III). 


mes des aristocrates et des royalistes ? " (Oui, s'ecrient 
quelques membres.) 

The president calls for order. 

Pelet. ''Quoique des petitionnaires puissent abuser 
du droit de petition, il n'en est pas moins sacre. II faut 
les entendre avec tranquillite." 

The speaker continues: "Ce n'est point aux mots 
qu'est attache la Republique; la Suisse, les £tats-Unis 
d'Amerique sont libres et ils n'ont pas un calendrier 
different des autres peuples." After some general objec- 
tions to the violence of the Terror he sits down. 

Hardy rises to oppose him. ''On ne peut pas me soup- 
Conner d'etre ami des auteurs de ce calendrier, mais il 
faut considerer le resultat de leur travail. Je sais qu'il 
y a des corrections a faire: les jours complementaires 
ne seront plus appeles sansculottides, on instituera une 
fete a la prudence, on fetera le premier jour de I'an, etc." 
He demands that ''le comite d'instruction publique fasse 
im rapport sur les reformes qu'il croira propres k perfec- 
tionner le calendrier republicain." ^^ 

The complaints continued. The people persisted in 
refusing to use the calendar. This gave rise to aggrieved 
wails from the commission of pubhc instruction and 
republican institutions. "Dans les departements," they 
say, "les foires, marches, etalages de comestibles sont 
encore fixes a des jours periodiques de la semaine ou de 
I'ancien mois. Tous les usages reproduisent les temps 
de la monarchic." ^^ 

It was even attempted to enforce by law the use of the 
system. The Moniteur of Sept. 23, 1797, tells of a com- 
mission appointed to propose a law ^ forbidding the use 

22 Mon., Aug. 17, 1795 (an III). 

23 Mon., 17 thermidor, an VI (Aug. 4, '98). 

2^ The law was formulated and passed, and reported in the 
Moniteur, 26 fructidor, an VI (Sept. 12, 1798). 


of the old style dates by newspapers and also by royal- 
ists "pour lesquels la haine de la Republique et le mepris 
des formes republicaines sont un besoin." ^s Even the 
Moniteur, however, acknowledges the weakness of the 
new system by continuing to add the '^vieux stile" date 
to the republican one. 

As late as Oct. 1798 (23 vendemiaire, an VII) we find 
the Moniteur, in an article of three columns, arguing 
patiently in favor of the new calendar and metric system. 
'*Le nouveau systeme des poids et mesures et le nouveau 
calendrier que nous avons depuis cinq ans, trouvent 
encore beaucoup de peine a s'etablir chez nous et beau- 
coup de schismatiques." 

On the other hand, there were all along extremists of 
the opposite wing who wanted to extend still further the 
use of the new calendar. One member, Sherlock, even 
proposed, 18 thermidor, an VI (Aug. 5, 1798), not only 
to employ the calendar for present and future dates, but 
to extend its application backward ''en retrogradant sur 
la fondation de notre RepubUque," 1791, for example, 
being designated "la premiere annee de Tolympiade avant 
la fondation de la Repubhque." This idea was adjudged 
by the Convention "grande, lumineuse, mais d'une exe- 
cution tres difficile dans ce moment." The project was 
laid on the table. 

Although a propaganda in favor of the calendar was 
apparently pressed, it became more and more futile. 
In 1805, since "le calendrier frangais n'est employe que 
dans les actes du gouvernement " while "dans les rela- 
tions sociales le calendrier romain est reste en usage," 
Napoleon abolished the former and restored the latter. 
The failure of the annuaire to become estabhshed can- 
not, of course, be laid to the strangeness of its designations. 
The estabUshment of so subversive and so artificial a 
25 Mon., Sept. 23, 1797 (an VI). 


system as was the new republican calendar would have 
been impossible, or at least exceedingly difl3.cult, no 
matter with what names it might have been endowed. 
We need not be surprised that the revolutionists failed 
to impose their calendar. Rather might we marvel that 
they succeeded in imposing their other similar reform, 
the metric system, which had a career fully as difficult 
though finally successful. 


The Metric Terminology 

The alteration of the system of weights and measures 
was fully as natural a change as that of the calendar. 
It was far more necessary; and it was consequently 
successful, though after a considerable struggle. While 
the change of the calendar was a purely fanciful and 
impractical scheme, there was nothing of the abstract 
and theoretical about the metric system. The names of 
the various weights and measures in use before the change 
was made were almost hterally legion. There was la brassCy 
la petite hrasse, la brasse moyenne, la grande brasse; there 
were the ligne, pouce, pied, aune, toise, perche de Varpent 
de Paris, perche de Varpent commun, lieue de paste, lieue 
commune; there were the grain, gros, once, marc, livre, 
denier. The table of measures of volume was of the 
following intricacy: 

1 muid = 2 feuillettes 1 pinte = 2 chopines 

1 feuillette = 2 quartauts 1 chopine = 2 demi-setiers 

1 quartaut = 9 veltes ou se- 1 demi-setier = 2 poissons 

tiers 1 poisson = 2 demi-poissons 

1 setier = 8 pintes (de Paris) 1 demi-poisson = 2 roquilles 

Often the terms varied from town to town, and even 
when the same term was used in contiguous districts it 
did not by any means designate a constant quantity. 
There were, for example, la livre de Lyon (pour la soie), 
la livre de Lyon {de ville), la livre de Marseille, la livre de 
Toulouse, la livre de Toulon, la livre de Paris, la livre du 
vicomte de Rouen, la livre de marc de Rouen, la livre d^Avi- 



gnon, la livre du Havre, la livre de Liege, la livre de Nice, la 
livre de Nantes, and others. 

This variety was felt by the patriots, and rightly, to 
be an occasion of disunion. They felt that time out of 
mind it had been the policy of the monarchy to promote 
such divergence as a potent means of division and sub- 
jection of the people. Hence all the hundreds of terms 
were to them hateful. They looked upon them as instru- 
ments of oppression. Liberty demanded unity in this 
terminology as well as in other things. 

A committee of the Acad^mie des Sciences, in a report 
on the matter of weights and measures made to the 
Assemblee Nationale and reported in the Moniteur 
Nov. 26, 1792, said: "Depuis longtems les philosophes 
playaient au nombre de leurs vceux celui d'affranchir les 
hommes de cette difference de poids et des mesures. 
Mais jamais le gouvernement n'aurait consenti a renon- 
cer a un moyen de desunion. Enfin le genie de la liberte 
a paru et il a demande au genie des sciences quelle est 
Tunite fixee." 

For some time there had been an interest in this reform. 
It was felt to be one of prime importance in the estabUsh- 
ment of the new system of democracy. On Feb. 18, 1790, 
the Moniteur reports at great length a motion to establish 
uniform weights and measures made in the Enghsh par- 
Uament by Sir J. Miller. The seed fell upon fertile soil. 
There had already been some disposition in France to 
make a similar change in the calendar; and on Apr. 30, 
1790, the Moniteur records that a proposition resembling 
Sir J. Miller's was made to the Assemblee Nationale by 
M. I'eveque d'Autun. He proposed to take advantage 
of the readiness of England, and to have a consultation 
on the subject.^ The suggestion was received with some 

* His apology for the extravagance of such a project is too inter- 
esting to omit. He says: "Plus d'une tete diplomatique trouvera 


favor and was not allowed to drop. A committee evi- 
dently was appointed, for in May, 1790, the Moniteur 
reports that a committee had proposed to the Assemblee 
Nationale a decree for the purpose of undertaking to 
introduce a uniform system in consultation with Great 
Britain. In December of the same year the Academie 
des Sciences made a preliminary report on the system. 

It was as yet, of course, not a question of terms. In 
fact there was as yet nothing new to name. The first 
thing was to select a unit of measure. By 1791 the arc 
of the meridian of Dunkerque had been chosen as the 
basis for this unit. It was not, however, till 1793 (Aug. 
2) that the organization of the project was sufficiently 
advanced to warrant its submission for legislative action. 
On that date, in a report on the subject of the unit, now 
definitely chosen, made by the Comite de I'Instruction 
PubHque to the Convention Nationale, M. Arbogaste 
states: ^'Cette unite s'appellera metre. EUe remplacera 
la toise, Faune, le pied et la brasse." ^ This is the first 
public use of the new term metre. And it is the only one 
of the new words that he divulges at this time. The other 
measures, those of liquids, weights, and coinage, he de- 
scribes but does not name. He does, however, report 
in detail the process of reasoning by which the commis- 
sioners had arrived at the fundamental principle on 
which to base the choice of the new units. 

Les commissaires de racademie ^ ont propose deux sortes 
de nomenclature pour les differentes mesures: dans Tune, 

certainement une grande extravagance dans ce pro jet de reunion 
entre deux peuples ennemis naturels, comme tout le monde salt et 
comme tout le monde a appris dans des livres tres-graves; mais 
nous osons croire que cette idee est tres-propre, par ce meme carao- 
tere d'extravagance philosophique a etre adoptee par I'Assemblee 

2 Moniteur universel, Aug. 2, 1793. 


qui est m^thodique et composee d'un petit nombre de ter- 
mes h retenir, les subdivisions portent des noms qui indi- 
quent le rapport decimal qu'elles ont entre elles et avec leur 
unite principale: dans Tautre, les noms sont simples, mono- 
syllabiques, independans les uns des autres, mais au nom- 
bre de plus de 24, et par consequent, difficiles a retenir. 

Le Coniite d'Instruction Publique a cru devoir preferer 
la premiere nomenclature fondee sur les principes suivans 
qui paraissent incontestables. 

"L Les nouvelles mesures etant differentes de toutes les 
mesures connues, leurs noms doivent, autant qu'il est possi- 
ble, etre differens des noms des mesures employees par tous 
les peuples anciens et modernes. 

"En effet, si on appliquait aux nouvelles mesures des 
noms deja usites ou on I'exposerait souvent a des erreurs et 
des fraudes graves, ou il faudrait, pour eviter Tequivoque, 
aj outer a la plupart des noms une phrase explicative qui 
indiquerait qu'ils appartiennent au nouveau systeme des 
mesures decimales frangaises, ce qui causerait des longueurs 

''2. Pour soulager la memoire, le nombre des noms nou- 
veaux doit etre le plus petit possible. 

''C'est a quoi Ton parvient, en ne donnant des noms 
independans qu'aux unites principales et en indiquant les 
sous-multiples par des mots composes qui rappellent leur 
rapport avec ces unites. 

''3. En introduisant dans les arts et les sciences des 
mesures nouvelles, il convient aussi d'enrichir la langue de 
mots nouveaux et simples. 

"D'ailleurs, une partie des noms de la premiere nomen- 
clature est deja repandue dans la Republique, soit par des 
ouvrages de science, soit par des rapports envoyes aux 
administrations . ' ' 

One must admit that these principles of word-creation 
are sane and logical. This report preceded, by three and 
five months respectively, the report of Romme and that 
of Fabre on the calendar. It may have furnished sugges- 


tions, if not for Romme's fanciful names, at least for 
Fabre's restraint in the selection of his names for the 
days. The excellence of this plan for new metric terms 
is indicated by its assured if at times precarious expansion 
and by its gradual though not yet complete success not 
only in France but in many other countries.^ It has evi- 
dently proved itself satisfactory. 

The Convention Nationale accepted this report and 
decreed that the results of the work of this committee 
be accepted "pour etabhr ce systeme dans toute la Re- 
pubHque sous la nomenclature du tableau annexe a la 
presente loi." 

This nomenclature was considerably different from the 
one we know to-day. Let us recall the terms as they are 
used at present. They are: 

(myriametre), kilometre, hectometre, decametre, metre, 
decimetre, centimetre, millimetre; (myriare), hectare, are, 
centiare; (d^castere), stere, decistere; (myrialitre), kiloli- 
tre, hectolitre, decalitre, litre, decilitre, centilitre; (myria- 
gramme), kilogramme, hectogramme, decagramme, gramme, 
decigramme, centigramme, milligramme. 

We see that the table in its final complete development 
has five basic words: metre, are, stere, litre, gramme; 
and seven prefixes, four of them multiples, from Greek: 
myria, kilo, hecto, deca, and three of them sub-multi- 
ples, from Latin: deci, centi, milli. By various com- 
binations of these twelve words and prefixes it would be 
possible to produce, if necessary, a complete set of forty 
terms. However, thirty at most and possibly only 

3 Although the United States has so far refused to adopt it, there 
is a steady pressure in favor of it and success is not to be despaired 
of. At a recent session of the American Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Science, Dec. 28, 1916, Dr. G. F. Kunz made a strong 
plea for its adoption. 


twenty-five are about all that are in general use, and 
these supply all needs. 

As the system was originally proposed in the law of 
Aug. 1793, three of the above-mentioned five basic 
words were absent, viz.j gramme, litre, stere. For stere 
there was no representative. For litre there were two 
other designations, cade and pinte (later changed to cadil) . 
For gramme there were three other terms, bar, grave, 
gravet. Thus, instead of five basic words, there were 
seven, and yet there was no designation for soHd measure. 
The multiple system also was not worked out with the 
completeness it now presents. 

The "Tableau du nouveau systeme des poids et me- 
sures" was as follows: * 

Mesures lineaires 

Quart du meridien 


Grade ou degre decimal 

du meridien 












Les besoins de la society n'exigeant point des noms parti- 
cuHers pour tous les multiples decimaux du metre, on s'est 
abstenu de leur en donner. 

Mesures de superficie 

Are 10,000 

Declare (sic) 1,000 
Centlare (sic) 100 

* Mon., Aug. 4, 1793. 


Mesures de capacit:^ 


1,000 (Mdtre cubique) 





Pinte (cadil) ^ 

1 (Decimetre cubique) 


Bar ou millier 










Centi grave 








Unite monetaire 

Franc d' argent 

Comparison of the data of the above table with those 
of the system as at present in use will be facilitated by 
observing that in the table given below the terms that 
are found in both lists are set in small capitals; those 
that are now used but which were not in the original 
set are in lower case type; while those that were in the 
original but have since disappeared are printed in itaUcs. 



kilometre (millaire) 











(pinte) (cadil) 



^ Pinte was changed to cadil by a decree reported in the Moni- 
teur, 30 nivose, an II (Jan. 19, 1794). 

* These terms have scarcely more than a theoretical existence. 










(bar ou millier) 










centiare (centlare) 





decastere (no solid 



stere measure 


decistere in 

list of 


centistere 1793) 

Although on looking casually at the table of 1793 one 
is likely to get the impression of a close resemblance to 
the nomenclature in use to-day, a glance at the typo- 
graphical disposition of the second table shows that this 
is erroneous. As a matter of fact, out of the twenty- 
five words that form the table at present there are found 
in the original list only five (prinJbed in small capitals); 
metre, decimetre, centimetre, millimetre and are. The 
other twenty words are different. The differences are 
of course in matters of detail rather than of fundamental 
principle. The principles of arrangement, composition, 
etc., have endured as they were fixed in the beginning. 
The changes are as follows. Only two of the basic units 
remain as at first — metre and are. Two have been sup- 
planted by a single form, viz., cade and pinte by litre. 
Bar, grave and gravet have become gramme. One, stere, 
is altogether new. In the are group the method of com- 
bination was slightly altered, centiare becoming centiare. 
To the mstre group three new multiples wefe added — 
decametre, hectometre and kilometre, the latter replacing 
millaire. The group of compounds containing -stere 

* These terms have scarcely more than a theoretical existence. 


did not appear in the original table. In all, then, eight- 
een terms out of the first twenty-five have disappeared. 

Can we explain these changes ? Words Uke hectometre, 
decametre, hectare, and the stere group, are merely addi- 
tions necessitated by practical needs. The change of 
millaire to kilometre seems a natural regularization of the 
metre group. So also centiare is more in accord with the 
chosen method of composition than centiare. The real 
question is, Why were cade, pinte and cadil altered to 
litre, and bar, grave and gravet altered to gramme f I have 
been unable to find any adequate explanation of these 

These alterations were made very early. It was in 
1794 (Jan. 19) that the Moniteur announced the further 
regularization of the liquid measures by the alteration of 
pinte to cadil. ^'L'unite des mesures de capacite, egale 
au decimetre cube et equivalente a la 1/1000 du cade, qui 
a ete designee sous la denomination de pinte dans le 
tableau annexe au decret du F aout 1793, portera le 
nom de cadil.'^ In 1795 (Apr. 14) the Moniteur gives a 
report of the Comite dTnstruction Publique by C. A. 
Prieur summarizing the new system. This summary 
shows all the alterations, so that the list is practically 
as it stands to-day, metre, are, stere, litre and gramme 
being the basic units. "L'unite des monnaies prendra le 
nom de franc pour remplacer celui de liwe usite jus- 
qu'aujourd'hui." The other names of the coinage, decime 
and centime, he says are ''deja regus en vertu des decrets 

The formation of the metric, like that of the calendar 

names, has been condemned by criticism. Brunot says: ^ 

"II est vrai que les mots ont ete mal faits, sou vent hy- 

brides; greco-latins, ou savants a peu pres. Kilometre 

7 In Petit de Julleville, VII, 844. 


ne peut venir ni de kIWos qui signifie bourrique (anesse), 
ni de x^^^osj 1000." Which fact, for all its accuracy, 
has not, however, hindered the word kilometre from 
coming into general use, nor the element kilo- from be- 
coming a vigorous prefix. Aside from the terms in the 
metric table itseK we find later compounds made with 
this prefix, such as kilowatt, kilogrammetre, kilometrage, 
kilometrer, kilometrique, kilometriquement. Metre also has 
been useful for compounds. We find the subsequent 
compounds amperemetre, am-metrey voltmetre, ohmmetre, 
coulomhmetre, wattmetre, grammometre (diviseur pour les 

While it is true that there must have seemed to be a 
certain amount of novelty in the metric terms, as for 
that matter Arbogaste said it was fitting there should 
be ('^il convient d'enrichir la langue de mots nouveaux 
et simples"), yet the system was not by any means in 
its entirety an absolutely fresh creation. In the first 
place the method of forming words thus scientifically 
by means of multiples was famihar. In Aulard's Societe 
des Jacobins we read: "Un membre a propose de diviser 
la garde nationale en centuries et decuries.'^ For which 
words, if not for milleries (10 centuries), there is classic 

M. F. Gattey undertook to demonstrate this fact of 
the familiarity of the words, in a book called Elements 
du nouveau systeme metrique, published in the year X 
(1801), when the new system was still having to struggle 
for its existence. 

*'La nomenclature," he says, ''se reduit a 12 mots, dont 
cinq noms generiques, metre, are, stere, litre, gramme, ne sont 
point etrangers a la langue frangaise; et sept annexes ou 
prenoms, dont la valeur n'est nuUement difficile a retenir, 
puisque les trois, deci-, centi-, milli-, sont des abbreviations 
de dixieme, centieme, millieme, qu'ils signifient; que le 


sens du mot deca- est deja connu dans le mot decade; en 
sorte qu'il ne reste que les trois mots hecto-, kilo-, myria- 
desquels on ait a charger sa memoire." 

The three Greek multiples are thus the only really- 
new words. 

That ^^ metre, are, stere, livre et gramme ne sont point 
etrangers a la langue frangaise/' was more or less true, 
except possibly in the case of gramme. M. Gattey does 
not go into details, but let us see what he meant. Metre, 
of course, had long been in use as a term of poetics. And 
curiously enough it appears even in 1792 in connection 
with liquid measures. In an account of a report made 
to the Senate of the United States, pubhshed in the 
Moniteur, June 4, 1792, we read, '* chaque demi-pinte sera 
divisee en dix metres.^' But it is probable that it is here 
used in the abstract sense of ''measures." It had long 
been known in composition in such words as geometrie. 
It could not be a difficult word to introduce. It may be 
added that the word was already masculine. 

Are was taken from the Latin area and, according to 
the Dictionnaire general, was "fait arbitrairement mas- 
culin." In this particular form it did not exist in the 
language. But aire, another derivative from area, was 
in use as meaning 'a plane surface,' 'area,' and very 
Ukely M. Gattey felt that the people would readily see 
the relation between the two and accept the new one. 

Stere, from Greek arepebs 'solid,' while not in the 
popular language, had long been known in learned speech. 
Littre mentions as being found in 1613 the word stereo- 
graphique (in the combination "projection stereogra- 
phique "). The Dictionary of the Academy, 1762, gives 
stereometrie as a name for solid geometry, and in 1798 
adds the geometric term stereotomie.^ 

^ We find that stere was used to form another compound soon 
after the introduction of the metric terms. Le Dictionnaire du 


Litre was but slightly different from the already well 
established litron, a measure just a Uttle smaller than 
the new litre, being 1/16 of a boisseau. So the people 
were already accustomed to saying ''un litron de farine, 
de sel," etc., and the change to litre could not be very 

Gramme is mentioned in the Dictionnaire general as 
used in 1790 to mean the 24th part of an once, and is 
marked ''Antiq." It can hardly have been very com- 
mon, but at least it is not absolutely strange. 

Although, taken all in all, the terms seem wisely se- 
lected and composed, and comparatively simple and 
reasonably familiar, they had, Uke the calendar words, 
a Hard struggle to gain the place they hold to-day. The 
original intention, as decreed in the law of Aug. 1793, 
was to send around the country specimen measures, 
books explaining the system, to have the new tables 
inserted in the school arithmetics, and thus have the 
nation ready for the introduction of it in a year, that is, 
in Aug. 1794. But this was not so easy to accompHsh. 
On April 14, 1795, M. C. A. Prieur, in a report of the 
"Comite d'Instruction PubUque" printed in the Moniteur, 
stated that while July 1, 1794, had been set as the date 
to begin the use of the new system, it had been impossi- 
ble (for reasons which he did not give) to put it into 

In September of the same year, 1795, the system had 
apparently not found favor. The Moniteur (Sept. 26) 
devoted a large space to a report by M. Prieur to the 
Convention Nationale evidently designed to win support 
for the new nomenclature. 

langage politique, diplomatique et parlementaire of N. E. D. Vau- 
mene (1839) gives the word panstereorama, " representation entiere 
en relief. Le panstereorama de Rome, de Constantinople." 


D'abord on a pens6 avec raison que, pour faire connat- 
tre a tout un peuple de nouveaux objets, et assez nombreux, 
il 6tait n^cessaire de les designer par des noms significa- 
tifs et propres a soulager la memoire. La nomenclature 
adoptee apres plusieurs essais moins heureux reunit la 
nettete et la simplicity, en enrichissant la langue de mots 
sonores, qui n'y avaient point d'equivalent. . . . L'ancien 
style etait loin d'allier a ce point la brievete et Texactitude. 
D'ailleurs, tous ceux qui ont d^j^ fait usage des nouvelles 
mesures savent comment I'habitude de les nommer sans se 
m^prendre s'acquiert promptement. 

He goes on to complain that the people refuse to use 
the new system. His argument in favor of the metre as 
a measure is at least ingenious. As the metre is a little 
shorter than the aune, he says, ''il sera plus commode 
pour les hommes d'une taille mediocre et surtout pour 
les femmes, qu'une trop grande extension de bras fatigue, 
et pent quelquefois incommoder.'^ 

This report was perhaps in reply to the petition of the 
Bonne Nouvelle section mentioned in the discussion of 
the calendar. On Aug. 17, 1795, this petition had asked 
for the abolition of the calendar and the metric system, 
— '4e changement des noms donnes aux poids, aux 
mesures et aux distances . . . Ces noms nouveaux et 
ininteUigibles au plus grand nombre des citoyens ne sont 
pas necessaires au maintien de la republique.^' 

About this time, the government, reahzing the difl&- 
culty, attempted to gain some headway by trying a 
gradual rather than a complete and immediate intro- 
duction of the system. By leaving aside temporarily 
the multiple words hedo, centi, etc., and using such 
easier combinations as double-litre, demi-litre, it was 
hoped to famiharize the people first with the basic units 
and so make a more gradual start.* The government 
9 Mon., Apr. 14, 1795. 


also tried to give support by various laws which would 
give an advantage to those who made use of the new 
tables. For example, in 1797 (18 thermidor, an VI) 
it was proposed to give patents only to those who would 
swear to use only the repubUcan weights and measures 
and to keep open their shops only according to the new 
calendar. In September of the same year ''la classe des 
seances physiques et mathematiques de I'Institut Na- 
tional, voulant favoriser et hater I'usage des nouveaux 
poids et mesures et de la nomenclature, '^ voted to use 
them exclusively in all its pubhcations.^^ In the year 
VII (1798), 23 vendemiaire, the Moniteur still continued 
to feel the need of giving support to the system, and 
pubUshed an article three columns long in favor of it. 
''Le nouveau systeme des poids et mesures," it says, *'et 
le calendrier que nous avons depuis cinq ans trouvent 
beaucoup de peine a s'etablir." 

It was not, as a matter of fact, actually estabUshed 
until Nov. 2, 1801, four years after the calendar was 
officially discontinued. And it was not made exclusively 
obUgatory imtil Jan. 1, 1840, by the law of July 4, 1837. 

All this opposition cannot, of course, be considered as 
objection exclusively to the terminology. The change 
in the size of the units is the cause of probably the greater 
part. But as in the case of the calendar, the people, as 
was only to be expected, objected strongly to unlearning 
the names by which they and their fathers and grand- 
fathers had measured their grain and bought and sold 
their wine and cloth. The struggle, unsuccessful in the 
case of the calendar, and hard in the matter of the weights 
and measures, shows the difficulty of forcing a nation by 
artificial compulsion to call, for instance, what it has 
been accustomed to speak of as an aune by the name 
of metre; to refer to what it has always known as 
10 Mon., Sept. 27, 1797. 


hoisseau in terms of litres. One wonders that it succeeded 
at all. Traces of the old system still surviving are com- 
mon in the current speech. One frequently meets the 
words pouce, pied, livre ("nom encore donne abusivement 
au demi-kilogramme")/^ arpent, ecu, livres {de rente), and 

We have now seen from five examples how the French 
have gone about the task of consciously devising new 
terminologies when these are required to name newly 
invented objects or are needed as substitutes for other 
sets of terms that have for any reason become unsatis- 
factory. In the last two chapters we have seen the proc- 
ess in operation with the fullest conscious intent. When 
selecting the nomenclature for the railroad or the auto- 
mobile, people realized to a certain hmited degree that 
they were engaged in such a task. Many of the current 
comments show this. Yet the normal forces of hnguistic 
development were also operating — more rapidly and 
under much higher pressure, it is true, than when pro- 
ducing such words as the primitive ancestors of table or 
chaise — but yet operating in no fundamentally irregular 
way. In the case of the RepubHcan calendar and the 
metric nomenclature, however, we have had the oppor- 
tunity to see the natural course of language development 
almost completely diverted. Stere or are have behind 
them no such antiquity of ancestry as maison or pain. 
They have only the manufactured pedigree, crisp and 
fresh, that a committee of scholars could draw up for 
them. Automobile and aeroplane can boast none of the 
mature ripening that produced such words as bateau or 
voiture. They are the haphazard products of various 
newspaper columns. Their mother was immediate ne- 

" Petit Larousse illustre (90th ed., 1913). 


Not on that account, however, are these words doomed 
to failure. Not for such lack are they any the less success- 
ful. All that is necessary is that they satisfy the popular 
taste. If they do this they gain certainly and instantly 
the all-potent ''sceau de Tusage" which is all that is 
needed for them to have a useful career. 

Having observed in these simpler and more concrete 
examples the manner of formation of new nomenclatures, 
let us now turn to examples of the same operation in 
larger fields. Let us pass from the definite to the ab- 
stract; from the realm of the material let us look into 
the reahn of ideas. Prepared by such more elementary 
studies as we have so far made, let us try to study the 
same problem when it involves not things but ideas. 
Let us see what the French have done not when they 
had a new vehicle of locomotion to christen, but when 
they had suddenly gained a new conception of hberty 
that must be expressed in language as well as in the 
institutions of the State. Let us observe what they have 
done not when they outgrew a system of weights and 
measures but a system of social organization. If in the 
one case twenty-five or thirty new words ' were needed 
in order to suit the language to the new system and some 
dozens of words fell into disuse, what in the other case 
will be the vastness of the new growth and of the dis- 
carded wastage? It is immediately evident that it is a 
much more comphcated work to adapt the language to 
the repubhcan conception of equahty than it is to fit it 
to the novelties brought into being by the invention of 
the railroad. We shall undoubtedly find alterations 
reaching to far more intricate depths of the vocabulary. 
A few new terms imported or created, a few nouns ex- 
tended sHghtly in signification, and all is ready for the 
most elaborate treatise on the locomotive or the automo- 


bile. But can the needs of the orators of the Revolution 
be provided for so easily? A few dozen nouns forgot- 
ten and the language is rid of the old system of weights 
and measures. But can it as easily be rid of the inequaH- 
ties imposed by the Bourbon aristocracy? More Hkely 
there are many hnguistic Bastilles to be destroyed and 
many aristocrats of the vocabulary to be executed before 
the language can be purged of what was monarchical 
in it and can stand forth satisfactorily democratic. It 
is this vast reworking of the vocabulary that we shall 
now attempt as best we may to set forth. 


Terminology for the Idea of Equality 

"On ne s'est pas encore avise d'etudier systematiquement le 
vocabulaire d'une langue de maniere a snivre dans les changements 
de I'expression le mouvement de la pensee." 

Darmesteter, Creation Aduelle, p. 7. 

The calendar and the metric terminologies were not 
the only sets of words created at the time of the Revolu- 
tion. One immediately recalls the word guillotine, also 
the verb guillotiner. In our investigation of the aero- 
family we found that we had to refer aerostier and aerosta- 
tion to that period. It has been asserted that the word 
patriate belongs to the same time; and aristoarate may 
also be found to have come into being then. Indeed, as 
we continue to investigate, we find that the number of 
new words that appeared at that epoch is considerable. 
As a matter of fact the thesis of T. Ranft, ''Der Einfluss 
der franzosischen Revolution auf den Wortschatz der 
franzosischen Sprache," mentions 881 words and word 
groups which either entered the language or acquired 
new meanings at the period of the Revolution. This 
seems an abnormally large number. 

What about these 881 words? There must have been 
many things to name for such a deluge of terms to have 
come into existence within the space of ten, perhaps five 
years. The calendar names, the metric terminology 
sink into numerical insignificance. What is the reason 
for all the others? ''Toute epoque a ses idees propres: 
il faut qu'elle ait aussi les mots propres k ces idees," says 
Victor Hugo in the preface to Cromwell. What were 



the ideas peculiar to the epoch of the Revolution that 
were being named with such profusion? ^'L'heureuse 
revolution dont nous sommes les temoins/' writes Do- 
mergue in his Journal (I, 26), ''frappe notre esprit de 
tant d'idees inconnues qu'il faut absolument des termes 
ignores de nos peres pour les rendre." Again the ''idees 
inconnues " expressed by ''termes ignores.'' We begin to 
suspect that underlying this mass of words is a certain 
unity. So many words cannot have sprung up acci- 
dentally. They must be the effect of the injection into 
the language of some vast and powerful set of ideas. 
Only such a power could furnish adequate dynamic force 
to produce such a stupendous creation. 

If this is so, then far more significant than the christen- 
ing of the automobile, or the aeroplane, or the railroad, 
or the calendar, or the weights and measures, is this nam- 
ing of new ideas. It is not now 'name this object'; it 
is 'name this idea.' We have, then, to decide what 
were the ideas to be named at this time, and we can next 
witness the processes by which the French have per- 
formed this task, far more tremendous than the naming 
of objects, the task of expressing in language a new 
thought suddenly called into being or a new point of 
view suddenly acquired. 

The question of the automobile vocabulary was the 
question of the language adjusting itself to the sudden 
disturbance caused by the invention of a new material 
object. Comparatively few words were demanded. The 
question now, if we are right, is that of adjustment to a 
far larger disturbance. This demand is suppUed by 
nearly a thousand words, as compared with the meager 
score that supplied the automobile. The whole concep- 
tion of society has been changed — not only changed but 
totally reversed. In M. de I'Epithete's Dictionnaire 
national et anecdotique, 1790 (R), we find this remark: 


''Abus: ce que les Frangois libres appellent aujourd'hui 
ahus, Fancien regime le nommoit droit.^^ And many 
another word underwent a similar overturn. To adjust 
itself to what tremendous ideas is the language under- 
going such an upheaval? 

If we look over our 881 words, we shall immediately 
be struck by the similarity of their general character. 
They are not words of art or of Hterature; they are not 
terms of speculative philosophy; they are not scientific 
words. They are almost entirely social and political 
terms. ''La plupart de ces expressions sont fortes et 
vigoureuses, elles correspondaient a des idees terribles; 
la plupart sont bizarres, elles appartenaient a la tour- 
mente des evenements," is the comment of Mercier in his 

Let us see what particular ideas dominate. If I men- 
tion, for example, a group such as the following, do we 
not see underlying them a common idea? (1) Citoyen, 
before the Revolution used but little; after it, prefixed 
to names as an ordinary title of address. (2) Aristocrate, 
whose family before the Revolution, according to Feraud's 
Dictionary (1787), consisted merely of the three words 
aristocratie, aristocratique, and aristocratiquement and 
which was itself marked with a star as a badge of the 
precariousness of its existence. What idea injected into 
it the vigor, not only to assure its own position and, from 
the condition of being in need of ''le sceau de Tusage" 
(Fer.), to become one of the most usual of words, but 
also to increase its family to fourteen words, some of 
them of the most bizarre character? What new ideas 
made necessary for their expression such variations of 
this word as the forms aristocratisme, anti-aristocratique, 
aristocratiser, desaristocratiser, and other similar words? 
(3) Niveler, which before 1789 was applied to a river or a 
boulevard, and after 1789 to the classes of society as 


well, and which was reinvigorated to the extent of giv- 
ing birth to the words niveleur and nivellement. If I recall 
(4) that before 1789 the word responsabilite existed, but 
that at the period of the Revolution it multiplied its 
family to include irresponsahilite, irresponsable, and non- 
responsabilite; if I recall (5) the new variations on fra- 
terniser, viz. fraternisation, fraternisant, confraterniser; 
if I ask (6) why the word federation, defunct since the 
fourteenth century, at just this period was revivified and 
reared about it a family of ten; or why (7) the word 
repuhlique just at this time was multiplied by means of 
all possible prefixes and suffixes used singly, doubly and 
even trebly; or if I inquire (8) what is the reason for 
such a profuse mushroom growth as the following from 
the verb elire: reelire, reelection, reeligihle, reeligihilite, 
ineligihilite, non-eligibilite, non-reelection, non-reeligihilite, 
electeur, new, all nine of them: Is there not a certain 
unity of idea in these examples? Would it be likely 
that so many new creations and changes of meaning 
should come all at once by chance and without the 
operation of some powerful ruling idea? 

These new words and new meanings are, in fact, a 
part of the extensive terminology by means of which the 
French were naming the '4dee maitresse de la Revolu- 
tion." And the '^dee maitresse de la Revolution" (the 
term and the application are Faguet's) is Egalite. 

Libert^, Egalite, Fraternite. If we take this motto, 
if we fuse egalite and fraternite and add as our third term 
autorite — that is a new authority, the exact reversal of 
the old, that of the people instead of that of the nobles, 
— then we shall have in three words the ideas which the 
people were naming and renaming, and coining synonyms 
and variants for, with their delighted, excited profusion of 
881 words, such was their exuberant pleasure in expressing 
them over and over again and complacently dwelHng upon 


them. ''Equality," of which the contrary is ''privilege" 
and of which a corollary is "fraternity"; "liberty," of 
which the contrary is "oppression"; and "authority of the 
people," of which the contrary is "authority of the nobles" 
— these are the dominating ideas that are causing this 
upheaval in the vocabulary. With the exception of less 
than a hundred words which came in at this period by 
chance, and not as part of the main current of thought, 
(words such as aerostation, bivouaquer, ambulance, words 
which are without special significance for us) — aside 
from these, our 881 words are but the multiform de- 
nomination of all the complicated phases of three vast 
ideas. Let us see just what were the details of this 
process. And first we will consider the idea of equahty. 

A new idea has come — has more or less blundered — 
into the consciousness of the French nation, the idea of 
equality. How shall this idea in all its intricacies be ex- 
pressed in the vocabulary? If a new machine is all at 
once invented to do its work among men, a terminology 
is immediately devised to name it, its parts, its acts, its 
effects. If, similarly, a new idea is introduced to do its 
work in every part of society, what terminology is devised 
to fit it, its effects and its subordinate ideas? 

In the revolutionary period there was great interest in 
the choice of terms, great attention upon the appellations 
of things and ideas. The selection of names and words 
was a highly conscious and intentional process. It was 
generally felt that there was much in a name. How 
important it was considered, to adjust the vocabulary 
with great exactness to the expression of new ideas and 
new shades of feeling, we have seen in the discussions of 
the calendar words. Later we shall see this more clearly 
{e.g., citoyen, p. 143). 

How, then, was the idea of equality named? Or to 
put the question differently, how was this idea expressed. 


not in laws, not in political systems, not in social re- 
arrangements, but in the vocabulary? The first way 
we may mention in which the men of the Revolution 
attempted by means of language to express the idea of 
equality and repress that of privilege was the alteration 
of the pronoun of address from vous to tu. The use of 
vous was felt, whether from reasons of logic or from mere 
association, to be an expression of the inequality forced 
on the people by ''fanaticism, pride and feudalism.'^ 
Perhaps this usage suggested to them the use of ''nous" 
by the king. It indicated an exaggerated respect for 
the person addressed and an undue humility on the part 
of the speaker.^ The matter was discussed in 1793 in 
the Convention. A petition presented by Malbec said: 

"Citoyens representants, les principes de notre langue 
doivent nous etre aussi chers que les lois de notre republique. 
Nous distinguons trois personnes pour le singulier et trois 
pour le pluriel, et au m^pris de cette regie, I'esprit de fana- 
tisme, d'orgueil et de f^odalite nous a fait contracter I'ha- 
bitude de nous servir de la deuxieme personne du pluriel 
lorsque nous parlons a un seul. Beaucoup de maux r^sul- 
tent de cet abus: il oppose une barriere k Tintelligence des 
sans-culottes; il retient la morgue du pervers et I'adulation; 
sous le pretexte du respect il eloigne les principes des vertus 
fraternelles. Je demande un decret portant que tous les 
republicains frangois seront tenus a I'avenir pour se con- 
former aux principes de leur langage en ce qui concerne la 
distinction du singulier au pluriel, de tutoyer sans distinction 
ceux ou celles a qui ils parleront en seul, k peine d'etre 
declares suspects en se pretant au soutient de la morgue 
qui sert de pretexte a I'inegalite entre nous." ^ 

Objection was immediately made to this on the score 
of another principle, that of hberty. It was declared 

1 Of. the custom of the Quakers in using "thee," etc. 

2 P. de JuUeville, VII, 834. 


" contraire a la liberie de proscrire aux citoyens la maniere 
dont ils doivent s'exprimer." There were, however, 
many who felt with Malbec that this was one way of ex- 
pressing the idea of equality in speech, and the tutoiement, 
even without the support of the law, enjoyed a consider- 
able popular vogue. 

A second way of expressing the idea of equality in 
language was the alteration of titles and proper names. 
As examples of titles of address we have citoyen and 
monsieur. The change in the use of the word citoyen 
was a mere transitory fashion; ^ in the case of monsieur 
the change has been permanent. Citoyen before the 
Revolution was a colorless word. It was used mostly 
in the phrase citoyen romain (R). It was probably only 
rarely on the Hps of the ordinary man. From this condi- 
tion of disuse it suddenly, selected as it was by the caprice 
of popular favor, became frequent on every one's lips as 
the most ordinary of titles prefixed to every name. The 
humblest man was Citoyen un tel, the king was Citoyen 
Capet. The word thus became the daily symbol of 
equality. It even replaced monsieur. 

Previously monsieur had had a use compatible with 
its etymology — mon sieur. "Avant la Revolution il 
ne se donnait qu'a certaines classes de society. Apres, 
il est devenu un titre de simple civiHte qu'on donne a 
tout homme'^ (Nyrop, IV, 132). But during the Revolu- 
tion it was too suggestive of the hateful privilege and 
inequality it had previously represented to be acceptable 
even when vulgarized by universal appUcation. ''Sous 
Robespierre, une qualification injurieuse. II a ete 
remplace par le mot citoyen ou par le monosyllabe sonore 
et gracieux tu, toi'' (Neologiste frangais, 1796. R). Or it 
was suppressed entirely. Brissot proposed to use no title 

^ This use was revived to a certain extent in 1830 by the So- 


at all: ''Disons Condorcet, Payne, comme on disait a 
Rome Caton, Brutus, Ciceron." ''Domergue estimait 
{Journ. I, 15) que les mots Monsieur et Madame seraient 
un jour 'rayes du vocabulaire d'un peuple dont Tegalit^ 
est la plus belle prerogative' et il commengait ses lettres 
comme eut fait Varron: Urbain Domergue a Pierre 
Lehardy salut!" "Que ceux qui veulent monsieuriser ^ 
rentrent dans les coteries qui admettent ce langage: 
mais ces messieurs doivent renoncer a etre employes par 
la republique." ^ Monsieur, however, survived this oppo- 
sition and, chastened of its arrogance, to-day indicates 
the equahty of the humblest with the highest. 

Other words, too, like monsieur, by being degraded 
from the state of titles of honor to an undignified use, 
were made means of emphasizing the new equality. 
Some became names of ribald derision. Chevalier suffered 
in this way. "Quels sont ces vagabonds? Ce sont, 
selon moi, les Chevaliers du Poignard, les brigands arrives 
de Coblentz.'' (Carnot Taine, 18 mai '92. Mon. XII, 
424. R.) The Jacobins after their fall were dubbed 
Chevaliers de la Guillotine (R). Other words, by a 
grim irony, were transferred to the very opposite of their 
former use. The crime of lese-majeste no longer existed. 
In its place were Use-nation, lese-constitution, lese- 
morale, lese-civisme, Use-convention, Use-repuhlicanisme, 
Use-jacohinisme, Use-revolution, and even the extreme Use- 
contre-r evolution.^ How satisfying must have been this 

* Monsieuriser was modeled on the already existing monsei- 

5 P. de JuUeville, VII, 833-4. "Similarly in letter writing the 
Jacobins avoided such phrases as *I have the honor to be,' saying a 
proper idea of one's importance is indispensable." Taine, Rev. II, 35. 

^ The testimony of Littre's dictionary is that this element had 
been active for some time. He gives from Le P. Catrou the form 
lese-republique; from J. J. Rousseau, lese-catholidte; from Diderot 
lese-sodetS; and lese-galanterie, used by Voltaire. 


eloquent assertion of the principle that kings and nobles 
may be reduced before the law to equality with other 
men; that while there was once a majesty that might 
be violated, now there is the nation and even the revolu- 
tion which it is a crime to outrage! The temporary and 
fantastic type of some of these compounds is but added 
proof of the satisfaction with which the downfall of the 
term Use was greeted. 

A similar effect was gained by the transfer of the 
suffix -icide from words like homicide, to words such as 
nationidde, patricide, patrioticide, plebicide, populicide, 
sodeticide, cividde,'^ deputidde, lihertidde.^ These words 
show the discovery by the popular mind of a type of 
equaHty previously unrecognized. Again, conseil was a 
term which had been an aristocrat among words, but 
which now came to be used with almost vulgar familiar- 
ity. Whereas formerly it had been known in such phrases 
as Conseil du Roi, we now meet it in names of a much 
less exalted kind — Conseil des Cinq-cents, Conseil des 
Anciens, Conseil Municipal, Conseil Martial, Conseil de 
Justice. Also mandat, which had before this been used 
principally of a papal order (Feraud), was now appro- 
priated by the people. They were now the pope's equals. 
They would make mandats d^amener, mandats d^arret, 
mandats imperatifs, mandats territoriaux. This word, also, 
was no longer sacred. It was all like the irruption of a 
mob into a chateau. They sprawl with their coarse 
clothes in the satin-covered chairs, their sabots on the 
inlaid tables. In the same way they make free and 
sport with words they once pronounced with hushed 
breath. Privilege no longer exists, even in the vocabu- 
lary. They gloat over its aboUtion. They mouth with 
exaggerated freedom the terms that once had cowed 

' L'Epithete. R. 6. » Nyrop, III, § 405. 


Titles, when not degraded in the way we have seen, 
were frequently abolished altogether. The Moniteur, 
in its report, has the caption ''Proces de Marie An- 
toinette de Lorraine, veuve Capets The phraseology of 
the article is illustrated by the following: ''Apres la 
mort de Capet, ces deux femmes traitent le petit Capet 
avec la meme deference que s'il avait ete roi." Think 
with what servility of deference these same individuals 
had been addressed so brief a time before! 

''A decree is passed that 'hereditary nobility is offen- 
sive to reason and to true liberty,' that where it exists 
'there is no political equality.' Every French citizen 
is forbidden to retain the title of 'prince,' 'duke,' 
'count,' 'marquis, "chevalier,' etc." ® Every one is for- 
bidden even to refer to the fact of its previous existence. 
"Any notary or public officer who shall write in any 
document the word ci-devant is suspended from func- 
tion." ^ Ci-devant, however, did acquire a singular 
popularity because of its very emphasis on the satisfying 
fact of there having been privileges which existed no 
longer. "La statue de la Liberte, elevee en lieu et 
place de la ci-devant Sainte-Vierge " ; ^^ "la ci-devant 
eglise metropolitaine." The word ci-devant existed before 
(Feraud). What it acquired now was its tremendous 
power of suggestion. In another mood, instead of sternly 
repressing all reference to the 'ci-devant' condition of 
privilege, the patriots delight in gloating over the fact 
of its 'ci-devance,' if we may so speak." They roll as a 

® Taine, R&o., I, 155, quoting from M(m. univ., 1790. 

" Buchez et Roux, XXX, 196. 

" An interesting indication that every tjrpe of civilization em- 
phasizes its favorite ideas in its epithets is found in a letter printed 
in the New York Times under date of Paterson, N. J., August 5, 
1915: "Is there any explanation why the American press has 
acquired the habit of directing attention to people's riches when 
they happen to be mentioned in the papers? I myself can think 


sweet morsel in the mouth the title 'princesse/ Muchesse, ' 
words now preceded by the significant prefix ex-. It pleases 
their newly awakened sense of equality that while these 
persons were formerly princesse, duchesse, they are now 
ex-princesse, ex-duchesse, ex-vicomtesse, ex-marquise, ex- 
abbesse, ex-noble, ex-ministre, ex-gouverneur (R. 114). The 
former titles of privilege, now rendered valueless by the 
scornful syllable ex- (which means 'now you are no more 
than we, whatever you may have been'), are left as 
bitter reminders of their previous condition. 

And as lost privilege was emphasized by the prefix 
ex-, so acquired equality was shown by that other prefix 
CO-. They Uked to say codepute, colegislateur, copetition- 
naire, co-assistant, co-parlant. It indicated that all were 
now on a plane of equahty. 

Furthermore, proper names that were suggestive of 
the old idea were changed. One of the most common 
alterations was in the matter of the ''particule nobihaire" 
de. This had become a dangerous badge and was sup- 
pressed on every hand. The Due d'Orleans became 
Philippe Egalit^.^ The word egalite was also frequently 
employed in the renaming of buildings. What had been 
"le Palais Royal" was now named "le Palais d'Egalite," 
or more humbly '4a Maison d'figalite," or even (in order 
to be rid of the least suggestion of the nobiliary particle) 
"la Maison Egalite." ^^ 

of no explanation beyond the fact that it has become a substitute 
for Count, Duke, Earl, etc., since we have no such titles in our 
democratic country. Many are perhaps unaware of the frequency 
with which this adjective 'wealthy' is used by the press. To me, 
and I have no doubt to many others, it has become nauseating and 
disgusting. One is reminded of the much used word 'fashionable' 
in relation to churches, which must give any true Christian a heart- 
ache when he sees how the thought is misdirected. — Herbert G. 

" Dupre, Lexicographica neologica, p. 98. 


As the offspring of the term egalite, we find the new 
words egalitarisme (found in Faguet, p. 29, but not in 
Littre or Larousse) and egalitaire (Faguet, p. 35; Littre, 
"Neol."). After 1789, what a different set of ideas 
would arise in the mind of almost any one who heard 
the word egalite, from what would have arisen before! 
What increased popularity, what added significance, 
what color, what intensity it gained! How potent with 
suggestion it now became! What enthusiasm it could 
now evoke! Whereas before it had been a little used 
abstract term, it now became a party slogan, a campaign 
catchword, a watchword, repeated by every man, printed 
on pamphlets, on flags, on badges, as one of the three 
words of the newly devised motto of the Revolution. 
The maximum of honor was done it when the guillotine 
was called "la faulx de Tegalite." 

In the third place, besides altering the forms of address 
and purging names and titles, the men of the Revolution 
stigmatized the idea of privilege by a great variety of 
outcroppings connected with particular words such as 
aristocrate, royal, etc. 

*'A proscribed class already exists (1789)," says Taine 
(I, 71), ''and a name has been found for it — aristocrate}^ 

" Dupre's curious dictionary has an interesting note on the 
word aristocrate. "It is," he says, "entirely new to the French 
language. It implies a person attached from principle to a con- 
stitutional aristocracy. According to this definition there are no 
aristocrats in France, because at the Revolution France was not 
made a constitutional aristocracy but only such by an abuse of 
the term. . . . sometimes means every Frenchman who has emi- 
grated with coimter-revolutionary views . . . likewise used as an 
opprobrious epithet which the hatred of oppression has inspired 
every Frenchman with against all arbitrary governments and of 
every kind of despotism and cruelty. This epithet is, however, by 
no means applicable to the defenders of a constitutional aristocracy. 


This deadly term, applied at first to the nobles and prelates 
in the States General, who declined to take part in the 
reunion of the three orders, is extended so as to embrace 
all whose titles, offices, aUiances and manner of living distin- 
guishes them from the multitude. That which entitled 
them to respect is that which marks them out as objects 
of ill-will, while the people, who did not regard them per- 
sonally with hatred, are taught to consider them as their 

In this word all the luxury, the splendor, the extrava- 
gance, the haughtiness by which this class had scorned 
and oppressed the people were summed up and hurled 
back in concentrated vituperation in the face of the hated 

The word aristocrate was not at this time absolutely 
new, though it was not very well established. It is 
recorded by Feraud (1787) with a star. It is not in the 
Dictionary of the Academy of 1776, nor in Chambaud's 
Dictionary (1778), nor in Garner's (1802). Boiste 
(1803) gives it and marks it ''nouveau"; in 1835 he 
withdraws the "nouveau," and in the same year the 
Dictionary of the Academy gives it for the first time. 
The other words of the family, however, had existed 
for some time. In the Dictionary of the Academy, 
1776, we find aristocratie, aristocratique, and aristocratique- 
ment; and in Feraud's Dictionary, 1787, the same three, 
with the addition of aristocrate. It was a retiring, modest 
family and showed little tendency to increase. But 

The foUowing passage settles the present acceptation of the word. 
'Aristocrates de tout etat et de toute couleur, royalistes, federalistes, 
Brissotins, Girondins, egoistes, mod^r^s, contre-revolutionnaires, 
ultra-revolutionnaires. ' ... those who espouse the party in oppo- 
sition to the hberties of the people and a popular government 
of whatever rank they may be." This is a comment from an 
English point of view in 1801. 


once the new upstart member, aristocrate, began to acquire 
its tremendous popularity, it began to bring the family 
into a notorious prominence and to cause it to increase 
largely in number. In addition to the three original 
words aristocratie, aristocratique, aristocratiquement, and 
the new aristocrate, we have aristocratisme, anti-aristocra- 
tique, aristocratiser,^'^ desaristocratiser, a group now con- 
sisting of eight words instead of three. 

Nor is this all. Both parts of the word were used as 
bases for making other terms of scorn, hatred, or ridicule. 
The first part, aristo-, gave aristocdte, aristofelon, aristo- 
gustin, aristo-robino-theocratie (rule of nobles, law courts 
and priests). And the second part, -crate, -cratie, struck 
the popular fancy as particularly piquant. With it 
were made cluhocratie (''lis font mouvoir par des ressorts 
secrets des societes qui d'abord ont signale leur zele pour 
la cause de la liberte, et la cluhocratie est devenue la ma- 
chine infernale par laquelle on tente de jeter la nation 
frangaise dans le trouble." Goupil, 15 juillet. Mon. 
IX, 133 b. R.), sanguinocrates, sanguinocratie (rule of 
Robespierre), plebecratie (rule of the people), calotino- 
crate,^^ calotinocratie (calotin = abbe is found in Diderot, 
Littre Suppl. II.), culocratie (a name for the First Na- 
tional Assembly because it voted by rising and sitting) .^^ 
In reply to these creations, we have the aristocrats steal- 
ing the thunder of the plebecratie to produce canaillo- 
cratie, varied sometimes to canaillarchie. 

Besides aristocrate other names for the hated class 
were devised. Ci-devant we have already mentioned. 

1* A fourteenth-century example of this word in Oresme is noted 
by the Die, gen., but it must have dropped completely out of use 
according to the testimony of all the dictionaries. 

15 "On a enferme tous les aristocrates et calotinocrates." Aulard 
Soc. II, 584, R. 145. 

1^ The recent bureaucrate, bureaucratie show that the suffix is 
still alive. 


Another is emigrant, later more usual in the form emigre 
(Larousse). Feraud, 1787, mentions emigrant, emigra- 
tion, and emigrer. He says: ''Ces trois mots sont nou- 
veaux; mais les deux premiers sont deja re9us par Fusage. 
II parait que le troisieme ne tardera pas a I'etre. lis se 
disent de ceux qui quittent leur pays pour s'etablir ail- 
leurs." He gives examples from Feller, Linguet, Moreau, 
etc. The opprobrium with which these words were now 
invested is shown by the following quotation from the 
Moniteur universel (L'An II, No. 35, Oct. 26). "Dans 
le nombre des prisonniers se trouvent trois emigres. 
Je ne donne pas a la commission militaire la peine de les 
juger; leurs proces sont faits sur-le-champ. Mes pis- 
tolets et mon sabre font leur affaire." This is from 
Vandamme's report of operations in the north. It was 
received with 'acclamations reiterees.' 

The hatred of the former inequality is also concentrated 
in the group royaliste, royalisme, royaliser, deroyaliser, 
fanatico-royaliste. Royaliste, the origin from which the 
rest of the words sprang, was previously restricted to 
use in connection with the League or with the English 
Civil War. From these special uses it was transferred to 
current conditions and, being thereby vivified, produced 
the new group. 

The new verb despotiser was likewise produced by 
jealous regard for the equality of all. 

This was the negative nomenclature, the words ex- 
pressing the hatred of all that had stood in favor of 
privilege and against equality. We turn now to the 
opposite set of terms, the positive names for the new 
equality. The contrary of aristocrate became patriote 
(see Dupre). The word was not new. In the fifteenth 
century, when it first appeared, it meant condtoyen or 
compatriote. In the sixteenth century, during the reli- 


gious wars, it came to mean, practically as at present, 
'devoted to one's country.' But it did not retain this 
meaning. As used by Rousseau in the eighteenth 
century it was again equivalent to concitoyen}'^ At the 
time of the Revolution it was revived in the second of 
these senses and, again meaning 'devoted to one's coun- 
try/ was used with great frequency. Its family before 
1787 consisted, according to Feraud, only of patriote 
C'qui aime sa patrie et cherche a lui etre utile. C'est 
un bon patriote." Fer.), patriotique (''sentimens patrio- 
tiques" Fer.), and patriotisme. The stimulated inter- 
est in the idea at the time of the Revolution is shown 
by the large variety of words created at that time in this 
family: s' empatrioter , (se) patriotiser, patriotiquement, pa- 
triotissime, patricide, patrioticide, patriomanie, patriomaney 
patriomaniaque, impatriote, impatriotique, non-patriote, 
antipatriote, antipatriotisme, impatriotisme, lese-patrie, 
hymne patriotique. Conscious ingenuity could scarcely 
furnish any more variants. From three the family has 
been extended to nineteen. Such a development in a 
family of this sort would have been impossible in a time 
when none but the nobles had any profitable interest in 
the country. But now, when all men are equally con- 
cerned and equally interested, it is natural as an ex- 
pression of their pleasure in the newly won idea of 

Word families such as we have been considering, derived 
from aristocrate, royaliste, patriote, etc., were very definite 
appellations, almost party names. But there were many 
other words which, though less specifically words of 
equality than these, to the mind of the patriots had in 
them the possibility of becoming eloquent terms to in- 

" Nyrop, IV, § 26. L. Daville, Note sur le mot patriote, Revue de 
philologie frangaise, XXIV, p. 150. 


dicate in less direct ways the pleasure of the people in 
the newly found principle, or to stigmatize the previously 
existing and now fully reahzed inequality of the old 
regime. So we come, in the fourth place, to a series of 
words which seemed to the imagination of 1789 to 
contain within them the idea of equality expressed, 
suggested or implied in one way or another, and which 
consequently underwent sudden and extensive devel- 

For example, to the revolutionary mind there was 
probably present in the word elire the idea that each man 
counts as one and is equal to every other man; in the 
word federer resided the idea, pleasing at that time, of a 
union on terms of equality (it was an association of 
states rather than individuals, it is true, but there was no 
reason why the transfer of application could not easily 
be made) ; the word fraterniser, again, expressed associa- 
tion on a brotherly, and consequently equal, footing; 
one man could make a motion as well as another; Hke- 
wise, in a petition one name had as much right as another; 
representant imphes equality in the representes; club is 
an assembly of members on a footing of parity; the idea 
of the word responsahilite completely contradicts any 
idea of irresponsible privilege and puts all men on a level 
of accountability. These words, having in them thus 
a germ idea that pleased, all underwent alteration in 
meaning, or extension of meaning, or revival, or gave off 
large increase, helping thus to make such adaptations 
in the language as were felt necessary to the complete 
and convenient expression of the idea of equality. There 
were families of most of these words previously existing 
in the language, but like the idea they expressed they 
were little used, undeveloped, and consequently small. 
For instance, the family of elire, as given by Feraud 
(1787), consisted of the following six words: elire, electeur, 


electif, election, electoral, electorat. The Dictionary of the 
Academy of 1776 gave, in addition to these, eligible and 
eligihilite. This family of eight the Revolution doubled 
by the addition of reelire, reelection, reeligible, reeligihilite, 
ineligihilite, non-eligihilite, non-reelection, non-reeligihilite. 
But there was more development even than might be 
apparent merely from the increase in number. Some of 
the original words were extended in meaning to a remark- 
able degree. An example is electeur. Previously it was 
applied almost exclusively to one single use; that is, to 
the electors of the Empire, as 'Electeur de Saxe.' Now, 
from this highly restricted use, it was completely gener- 
alized to its present meaning. Electoral underwent an 
analogous change. Feraud says of electoral and electorat: 
"lis ne se disent que des Electeurs de TEmpire." ^^ Now 
we hear of "I'assemblee electorale," '^le droit electoral," 
''reunion electorale." 

Not connected in formation with this group, but 
dependent upon it and related to it in meaning are the 
new combinations: pluralite ahsolue, pluralite des voix, 
pluralite relative, pluralite simple. This group, so de- 
tailed and specific, shows most refined division and 
classification of all the intricacies of the idea that the 
sum of the individual votes, each counting one and all 
equal, constitutes the deciding authority. 

Likewise, in the case of the words majorite and minorite, 
we see a startling alteration of meaning that is most 
eloquent. The former meanings of these words were, 
'the state of being of age' and 'the state of being under 

18 Feraud had, however, recognized the change as far as electeur 
is concerned, for he says of it: "L'Academie avertit qu'il ne se dit 
guere que des Electeurs de TEmpire. II me parait pourtant qu'on 
le dit sans diflBcult6 de tons ceux qui elisent." These two comments 
show us the change of meaning in the very process of spreading 
through the family. 


age.' Majorite also meant 'grade of major.' Already 
in England the word majority had acquired the present 
parhamentary sense, and occasionally the French word 
majorite had been used to translate it. Now with the 
Revolution this new use, along with the similar use of 
minorite, became general. ^^ Voter also acquired greater 
force and definiteness of meaning. Previously it meant 
merely 'to cast a vote.' Now we find Mirabeau saying: ^^ 
^'Nous inviterons les peuples a nous autoriser a voter un 
emprunt." This broadening from the neuter to the 
transitive use seems to me a subtle indication of the 
increase of power in the idea which the verb expressed. 
Instead of being theoretical and abstract, this power 
has become real and concrete. The verb then becomes 
more positive and definite. 

The word motion underwent a similar change. Feraud 
gives us interesting evidence that the change was already 
in progress. His remarks are: ''1° terme didactique, 
action de mouvoir; 2° proposition faite avec zele dans 
une assemblee pour y faire decider quelque chose: faire 
une motion. Cette deuxieme acception nous vient des 
Anglais qui en font un grand usage dans leur Parlement. 
L' Academic ne le met pas dans ce sens; mais il s'etabHt 
parmi nous; et c'est un neologisme dont on peut bien 
augurer." His prophecy was fulfilled, for the word 
acquired great popularity in the new sense. 

Another such word is representant. Feraud gives the 
word as adjective and substantive, but no examples of 
its use. However, from the examples he gives of the 
verb representer, we can get an idea of what the use of 
representant was. ''Un ambassadeur represente le Souve- 
rain qui I'envoie. Un gouverneur de province represente 
le Roi. Celui qui a une procuration [power of attorney] 

19 Ranft, 52, 53. 

2"^ Mirabeau peint par lui-meme. Paris, 1791. I, 176. R. 


represente la personne dont il a regu le pouvoir." These 
uses show us that the germ of the new use was there, 
but undeveloped. What an unfolding, then, is in the 
new, sounding phrases ' Representants du Peuple Fran- 
gais,' ' Representants du Peuple,' ' Representants des 
Communes,' ' Representants de la Nation.' 

The words petition and petitoire also acquired vivid 
new uses. Both appear in Feraud, but in far different 
meanings from the Revolutionary ones. *'Le premier 
ne se dit qu'en philosophie, et le second au Palais. ' Peti- 
tion de principe' se dit lorsqu'on allegue pour preuve la 
chose meme qui est en question. Action petitoire, 
demande faite en justice pour obtenir la propriete d'un 
heritage, la jouissance d'un benefice, etc." Now petition 
comes to mean "demande adressee a une autorite pu- 
bhque" (Dictionary of the Academy '98, Suppl.). It 
makes a useful term for the new vocabulary of equality. 
''M. de Cazales a fort bien dit qu'on devait reconnaitre 
dans le peuple un droit de petition. Les petitions se 
font sans convocation d' Assemblees " (Mirabeau II, 80. 
R. 55). In this family develop the new words petition- 
naire and petitionnerJ^ 

All these new words and new meanings form an elabo- 
rate expression of the newly developed conception of 
deciding matters by counting the opinions of individuals, 
rather than by consulting the desire of a few privileged 
rulers. They are elaborations of the idea of equality. 

Another group that developed profusely was that of 
the word federer. The word federation had existed in 
the fourteenth century {Die. gen.), but had apparently 
completely died out, for neither it nor any word of its 

21 Though Littre has an example from St. Evremond (died 1703), 
the word was not cited by Feraud, nor by the Academy till 1878. 
It amounts to being a new creation of the Revolution. 


family appears in Feraud's Dictionary (1787) nor in the 
dictionary of the Academy of 1776 (Lyons). Now, 
however, under the influence of the new ideas, the fol- 
lowing extensive group suddenly arose: federer, federe, 
federation, federatisme, federal, federaliser, federalisation, 
federalisme, federaliste, antifederaraliste, defederaliser. 

A similar group arose about the already existing fra- 
ternite. The word itself acquired tremendous vigor and 
definiteness. It was featured by its appearance in the 
new motto. From being, before the Revolution, a 
colorless, general word, it now came to blaze with the 
heat of the most vivid of the revolutionary principles. 
The jewel of egalite was fraternite. Its companion verb 
fraterniser, like the verb voter, expanded from the neuter 
use to the transitive use, and from meaning merely ''vivre 
f raternellement " (Feraud) came to mean ''to enter into 
a political union." The family, as given by Feraud 
(1787), is: fraternite, fraterniser, fraternel, fraternellement. 
The Revolution, besides the changes of meaning we 
have just mentioned, added the new forms: fraternisa- 
tion, fraternisant, confraterniser. The word became very 
popular and threatened to take the place of other words. 
"Je propose a la societe de ne plus parler d'affiliation, 
ce mot ne doit etre prononce dans une republique, mais 
de se servir du terme de fraternisation.''^^ "Un membre 
demande qu'on supprime le mot de federation et qu'on 
le remplace par celui de fraternisation." ^3 

Another word, club, which was introduced from Eng- 
land, became very productive, and we find arising the 
group: club, clubicule ("les membres des clubicules 
affilies au grand club," Aulard, Soc. II, 308), clubinaux, 
clubinomanie, clubiste (partisan des clubs), clubique (la 
fantaisie clubique), clubocratie. The idea of association 
on a footing of equality is at the basis of this group. 
22 Aulard, Soc. IV, 614. R. 23 mdem, V, 234. 


And finally, one of the most significant developments 
is that of the word responsahilite. Feraud gives it along 
with responsable, but apologizes for it with a star and 
the remark: ''Ce mot pent etre utile en certaines occa- 
sions." The occasions now arise and in great number. 
The word becomes frequent.^ Whereas before there 
was no such thing as responsibility about the governing 
classes, and the condition of the lack of it was not even 
designated by a name, now the word responsahilite ac- 
quires new significance, and the previous condition of in- 
equality is judged and condemned by means of the new 
words: irresponsahle, irresponsahilite, non-responsabilite. 

What, now, do all these terms express? When we 
consider them as one great group, remembering that, 
various as they are in formation and origin, they all 
sprang up within the short space of a few years, we are 
forced to see that there is a certain unity that brings 
them all together. Never would they all have come 
into being unless there had been a dominating idea to 
evoke them, unless they had been needed to express a 
thought. They are, in all their variety, the complicated 
naming of a tremendous idea, the answer to the question. 
How did the French express in language the idea of 
equality when it suddenly burst forth and had to be 
named? Just as, to name the automobile and its ac- 
cessories, which are things, there was created a certain 
body of words, so to name equality, which is an idea, 
there was created another body of words of a very 
different sort and much larger. It makes no difference 
that these alterations and creations are so diverse as to 
include: (1) a change of number jn the second person 
pronouns; (2) the substitution of one title of address 
for another and the suppression of many titles; (3) the 

^ R. 57. 


degradation and parodying of other titles previously- 
honorable {e.g.y Chevalier)', (4) the suppression of the 
particle de in certain uses (particule nobiliaire); (5) the 
alteration of the names of many towns and buildings; 
(6) such extension and alteration in meaning as we have 
seen in the words aristocrate, emigre, royaliste, ci-devant, 
patriate, majorite, voter, motion, petition; (7) the degrada- 
tion of terms to less respectable positions, such as Use-, 
from lese-majeste to such combinations as lese-revolution ; 
(8) the prevalence of such prefixes as ex- and co-; and of 
such suffixes as -icide and -crate; (9) the profuse increase 
of such groups as that of f Merer +, elire +, patriate +, 
petition +, fraternite +, club +, responsahilite +, roya- 
liste + , aristocrate +. This diversity, I say, does not 
hinder all these from being one related group, the name 
group of one idea hitherto unnamed because scarcely 
existing, the idea of equality. 

In this study we have had occasion to consider the 
following words. Those which underwent a change of 
meaning or of use but were not newly created, are marked 
with a star. The others are new. We may wonder how 
many of them have been permanent and are still in the 
language to-day as the Revolution left them. If we 
take as a standard their presence in Littre we have a 
certain criterion. Those (except phrases) that are in 
Littre are marked L. (starred words are marked L. only 
if given in the Revolutionary meaning), and we may 
think of these as the permanent alteration in the language 
caused by the awakening in 1789 of the idea of equality. 
They are arranged in general in the order in which they 
were taken up in the text. 



niveler * 











vous * 


egalite * (in names) 

citoyen * 

Monsieur * 


aristocrate * 



chevalier * 

anti-aristocrate L. 




























Conseil des Cinq-Cents 
Conseil des Anciens 



Conseil municipal 



Conseil martial 

royaliste * 


Conseil de Justice 



mandat d'amener 

royaliser (L 

. N60I.) 

mandat d'arret 


mandat imp^ratif 


mandat territoriale 



ci-devant * 

patriote * 


ex-princesse, etc. 




(se) patriotiser 




petition * 



petitoire * 
















federation * 

(see text) L. 



patriotisme * 












hymne patriotique " 










fraternite * 



fraterniser * 










non-reeligibilite 2« 



pluralite absolue 



pluralite des voix 


pluralite relative 


plurality simple 



majorite * 



minority * 



voter * 


motion * 


responsabilite * 


representant * L. 

represente L. (only as adj.) 
assembiee representative 

irresponsable L. 

irresponsabilite L» 


2* Littre gives also antipatriotique, which the Revolutionary word- 
makers overlooked. 

2« Littre gives also ineligible. 

^ But cited as used "pendant la Revolution." 


Here are 116 words and 15 combinations (such as 
Conseil de justice, hymne patriotique) . Twenty-three of the 
words are starred, leaving 93 that were actually new 
made words. Forty-four of the 116 are given by Littre, 
indicating that this number of new formations and altera- 
tions of meaning or use may be considered as the per- 
manent effect upon the language. The remaining 72, 
many of them inevitably because of their ridiculous 
formation, have been discarded. These may be con- 
sidered as the wastage, perhaps no more than normal in 
amount, which is always to be found attending the crea- 
tive functioning of a language. 

Terminology for the Idea of Liberty 

Let us look now at the idea of liberty, of freedom. 
To express this idea adequately the very word liherte 
itself underwent tremendous changes. Think how vague, 
how unreal a term it was before the Revolution, like 
the concept it represented; how remote from daily 
experience. Liberty, the philosophers had talked of it 
as they had once discussed determinism or grace, but 
how rarely it was on the common man's tongue! But 
now! Now it is on every one's hps. The meaner the 
man the more often he uses the word. What definiteness 
it has acquired! What vividness! What real concepts 
it now delimits within its field, what clear-cut images 
it now arouses in every mind the moment it is pro- 
nounced ! 

And, too, the word revolution. This word also had 
always existed. There had been revolutions in Rome, 
in England. There had been one only recently in 
America. The word was known, was used on occasion, 
like such a word, say, as phalanx or centurion, but the 
occasions were rare. And then all of a sudden one day 
a king is told, ''Une revolte? C'est une revolution!" 
And the word commences its whirlwind career. "Une 
revolution? C'est LA Revolution!" Its article is changed 
from the indefinite to the definite. It acquires a capital 
R if not capitals throughout. It becomes a proper 
noun. From being the mere general name of a political 



movement, a word on a par with 'battle' or 'war' or 
'invasion,' the mere synonym, more or less exact, of 
'revolte, sedition, insurrection, rebellion,'' it now becomes 
one of the most individual of words, one of the most 
powerful. He who could say now ''La Revolution, c'est 
moi," would wield a greater, a more violent power than 
had he who said ''L'fitat, c'est moi." "La Revolution'' 
in the minds of many now replaces the words L'Etat, 
le gouvernement, VBglise, le Roi, even Dieu. It has 
swept all these from their seats of authority. The most 
potent word to conjure with is now not these, but "La 
Revolution." It now does for the people what these 
words once did for kings. 

The power of the word may be seen by the vigor of the 
growth it put forth. Before 1789 the family consisted, 
as given in Feraud, of the one soUtary word revolution. 
Now we find: revolutionner , revolutionnaire (n. and adj.), 
revolutionnairement, irrevolutionnaire, irrevolutionnaire- 
ment, antirevolutionnaire, retro-revolutionnaire, ultrare- 
volutionnaire, contre-r evolution, contre-revolutionnaire, 
contre-revolutionnairement, contre-revolutionnel, Use-revolu- 
tion, lese-contre-r evolution, and many compounds such as 
pensionnaires de la Revolution,^ sapeurs de la Revolution,'^ 
Les richards de la Revolution,^ gouvernement revolution- 
naire, fauteuil revolutionnaire,* — fourteen words (aside 
from compound phrases) as compared with a single word 

At the same time, as if to have ample variety of ways 
to express the idea, the family insurgent, insurrection, 

1 Name for the executioners paid by the Jacobins. (Le Niologiste 
frangais. R.) 

2 "Epithete donnee aux Jacobins." (Le Neologiste jranqais. R.) 
' Those who had been enriched by the Revolution. (Le Niolo- 

giste frangais. R.) 
* The guillotine. 


insurgence, began also to develop. These three words 
were already in existence, enjoying narrow and limited 
application. Of insurgent Feraud says: "ne s'est dit 
d'abord que de certains corps de troupes hongroises, 
levees extraordinairement pour le service de I'Etat. 
On Fa appHque dans la suite aux peuples de la Nouvelle 
Angleterre, lorsqu'ils se separerent de la Metropole. 
On les appele aujourd'hui les Etats Unis." Of insur- 
rection he says: "On ne le disait a propre que de 
la Pologne. On Fa dit ensuite de la scission entre les 
Colonies Anglaises et la Metropole." Insurgence seems 
to have been applied mostly to the American revolution.^ 
Another member, insurger, had been in use in 1611 but 
had disappeared. From this state of moribund restric- 
tion all four words developed a new breadth of apphcation, 
and a much greater frequency of use, and the group was 
increased to seven by the addition of insurrecteur, insur- 
rectionnaire, insurrectionnel. 

Constitution is another word which had an enormous 
development in order to help express the new idea. It 
was not by any means an unknown word, although the 
Dictionnaire national et anecdotique (1790) says: '^Ce 
mot etait etranger avant la Revolution; FAssemblee 
Nationale travaille a le rendre frangais." The group as 
given in the Dictionary of the Academy (1776) was, 
constitution, constitutif, constituer, constituent. This orig- 
inal group of four words had apparently begun to grow 
just before 1789, for Feraud adds to this hst, but with 
stars, two words, constitutionnel, constitut. It continued 
to grow with added vigor, for after the Revolution we 
find it increased to fifteen, besides five phrases of which 
its members form a part. We wiU describe the process 

6 Not in F6r., but cited by R. 


in some detail as typical of what happened in many other 

Before the Revolution the group was insignificant. 
According to the Dictionary of the Academy (1776), the 
word constitution had three meanings. The first two do 
not seem to offer starting points for the new growth. 
They are, (1) ''composition (d'un corps naturel)," 
(2) "creation d'une rente (mettre son bien en constitu- 
tions)." But the third is the modern meaning in its 
undeveloped state: ''Ordonnance, loi, reglement (Les 
Constitutions des Empereurs, les Constitutions impe- 
riales, canoniques, apostoliques, d'un ordre Rehgieux. 
Cette Republique etait gouvernee par de bonnes con- 
stitutions)." We note that in the above examples the 
word is used only in the plural. The last two examples, 
however, are in the singular: ''La Constitution d'un 
tel Empereur. Recevoir une constitution." We see 
how far the word is from the post-revolutionary meaning. 

The other members of the group were even further 
removed. Constitutif meant "essentiel (une propriete 
constitutive)"; constituer meant (1) "consister en"; 
(2) "etablir (constituer qu'qn. juge, prisonnier, un Pro- 
cureur)"; (3) "constituer une rente, une dot"; (4) "com- 
poser (I'ame et le corps constituent I'homme)." While 
constituant "ne se dit guere que dans les actes ou Ton 
constitue Procureur (ledit sieur constituant lui a donne 
pouvoir de . . .)." ^ The group thus had about it origi- 
nally very Httle of the significance with which the Revolu- 
tion was to invest it. It is an innocent and conservative 
group, colorless and sedate. 

The growth in meaning, however, begins to be seen 

in Chambaud's Dictionary (1778). For constitution he 

gives the definitions we have quoted above, but to the 

third meaning, "ordonnance, loi, reglement," he adds, 

6 All from Acad. 76. 


"forme de gouvernement." The new tendency is thus 
indicated. And when we come to Feraud (1787) a 
further development towards the later, positive char- 
acter of the group is visible. We find the four words 
of the Academy Dictionary (1776), with substantially 
the same definitions. But two new words appear, both 
starred, constitutionnel and constitut. The second of 
these is not very important except that it shows, as a 
new growth, a certain measure of life in the family. 
Feraud says: *'un auteur tres moderne (Anon.) a dit 
'mettre de Fargent a constitut,' pour dire a constitution 
de rente. Ce mot n'est en usage ni au palais ni dans 
le discours ordinaire." But constitutionnel is indeed a 
straw showing which way the wind is blowing. ''Mot 
a la mode," says Feraud, "depuis qu'on parle tant des 
af aires d'Angleterre." Talking of these affairs, then, 
has already produced this word. And its meaning is 
different, at least in tone, from anything yet known in 
its group. ''Conforme a la constitution du gouverne- 
ment," is the definition Feraud gives. If, then, there is 
need for this word, is it not because a new liberty is on 
the eve of awakening? Formerly it made little difference 
whether a thing was ''conforme a la constitution" or 
not, so little difference in fact that there was no word to 
use in such a case. Now the people are beginning to 
have thoughts and pass judgment on these matters. The 
appearance of the new word indicates this new method 
of thought. And, too, the example chosen by Feraud 
is indicative of a certain Uberal, almost impudent, license 
which is also new: "II est legal, constitutionnel, indis- 
pensable que le peuple retire son depot des mains infi- 
deles (des minis tres) qui en auroient negUge le soin. 
Linguet, Annales." Compare this with some of the in- 
nocuous, abstract examples in the Dictionary of the 
Academy. This is the very rumble of the distant storm. 


The growth, thus begun, continues. The adventurous 
new member, constitutionnel, shakes the family into hfe. 
The term constitution becomes vitahzed. The word 
stands forth, as the word revolution has done, capitaHzed 
and with the distinguishing attendance of the definite 
article as LA Constitution. Like liberte and revolution it 
acquires decisiveness and specificness of meaning. Liberty- 
hangs upon the constitution. "La Constitution formera 
le corps de lois qui convient a un peuple lihre pour vivre 
sous un roi sans cesser d'etre lihre.^' (Die. nat. R.) And 
since now Hberty needs to be discussed in all its phases, 
new words are needed in this, one of the most expressive 
of its word groups. So the family grows as the concep- 
tion of liberty extends more widely. To summarize the 

constitution, hke revolution, now represents a new idea 
to every man in France, and a different idea from what 
it would have represented before 1789. 

constituer, from the restricted special use ''constituer quel- 
qu'un juge " (Acad. 76), now grows to cover a broad 
field. Now one says ''se constituer en assemblee," 
"constituer en fitat," "constituer en monarchic," 
"le principe nous constitue representants du peuple,'' 
etc. (R.) 

constituant, which previously "ne se dit guere que dans 
les actes ou Ton constitue procureur'' (Acad. 76), now 
leaps from this position of staid retirement to one of 
notoriety. We hear of "assembl^e constituante," 
"pouvoir constituant,'' "corps l^gislatif ou constituant," 
"legislatures non-constituantes." (R.) It also leaves 
its adjectival state and becomes a noun, meaning 
either, "member of the Assembl^e Constituante," or 
"supporter of the Constitution." It comes to be a 
word of daily occurrence, where before it must have 
been very rare. 


constitutif, the last of the original four that appeared in 
the Dictionary of the Academy, 1776, apparently 
failed to adapt itseK to any of the new uses and re- 
mained little used. 

constitutionnel quickly developed beyond the stage recorded 
in Feraud, got rid of its star, and became very general. 
To his ''conforme a la constitution," The Dictionary of 
the Academy, 98, Supplement, adds, " conforme a la 
constitution de la Republique." The word also ac- 
quired a substantive use and meant (Acad. 1798 Suppl.) 
"Partisan de la Constitution et plus sp^cialement de la 
Constitution de 1791." It had also a meaning growing 
out of the expression ''constitution civile du clerge." (R.) 
Itself when a noun partly a synonym for constituant, 
it had a synonym in 

constitutionnaire. This word had existed previously as 
meaning " celui qui reconnaissait la buUe Unigenitus," 
(Littre) or " officier charg^ de publier les constitutions 
des Empereurs romains," but the present word can hardly 
be called this same one with an altered meaning. There 
is no continuity of growth. Rather is it a new crea- 
tion, a chance duplicate of the defunct word, made 
on the model of the already current revolutionnaire. 
It is both noun and adjective. 

The family continues to show great vigor. There 



inconstitute ("aggregation inconstituee de peuples d^sunis^O 

(Littre, R.) 
inconstitution ("notre ancienne inconstitution") (R.) 
non-constituant ("les legislatures non-constituantes") (R.) 
ex-constituant ("un ex-c. ou un membre de la legislature") 


anti-constitutionnel ("^crivains anti-c s") 

extra-constitutionnel ("d^crets extra-c s") 


ex-constitutionnel (member of first Assembl^e Nationale) 

lese-constitution; and such phrases, more or less stereo- 
typed, as 
acte constitutionnel 
assemhlee constituee 
hors de la constitution 
autorite constituee 
Les Amis de la Constitution. 

The group has thus grown from four to seventeen words, 
besides phrases. It is one of the most expressive. 

Significant also is the appearance at this time of the 
combination hulletin des his. The constitution being in 
the hands of the people, all were free to know the laws. 
They were now public, accessible to all, and a name was 

As the constitution, whereby liberty was obtained, 
must have a set of terms for all contingencies, so the 
means whereby the constitution was obtained must have 
its elaborate terminology. The word convention suffers 
a violent wrench in meaning. In Feraud the only idea 
it is used for is that of ''agreement, covenant" (as ''con- 
vention matrimoniale"). Now we find it used con- 
stantly in the sense of "meeting." How far we have 
gone in a few years! Whereas we once said for con- 
vention: (Fer.) ''pacte que deux ou plusieurs personnes 
font ensemble; faire une convention, s'en tenir a une 
convention," etc., we now say: "Les deputes du peuple 
ont forme une convention nationale" (Mir. Ill, 71. R.), 
or "en notre qualite de convention nationale nous sonunes 
subordines envers le peuple a deux especes de responsa- 
biUte." {Mon. VI, 67. R.) There is a new thing in French 
history. There is a new name for it. It is not a new 
word, but it might almost as well be, so much has it been 


altered. Its adjective, conventionnel, arises. It means, 
*' relating to the convention," and we find assemhlee 
conventionnelle. The word develops also into a noun, 
as: " les patriotes surveillent les conventionneW (Aulard 
Soc. IV, 29. R.), that is, the members of the convention. 
Likewise, as revolution has its adjective revolutionnaire, 
and constitution, constitutionnaire, so convention has con- 
ventionnaire,"^ member of the convention. These three 
words constitute the convention group. 

Assemhlee, not adaptable to use with terminations 
like -aire, -el, yet aided greatly in the work of furnishing 
means of expression for the new idea by offering itself 
for combinations, all new to the language, such as, As- 
semhlee administrative, assemhlee communale, assemhlee 
electorate, assemhlee nationale, assemhlee primaire, assemhlee 
representative, assemhlee constituee, assemhlee de revision. 
This sort of combination is, of course, not new. We 
find several somewhat similar ones in Feraud : V assemhlee 
du Clerge, des Etats, des Chamhres, du Parlement, de la 
Communaute, des Avocats. But the new combinations 
show that there were now assemhlees different from these. 

And in this convention, in the new sense of the word, 
in these new assemblies, are required new names for the 
unwonted functions, the strange prerogatives. The un- 
restrained liberty to exercise the new powers produces 
many new words and expressions. For example, the 
newly constituted legislators had initiative: ^^V initiative, 
c'est-a-dire la proposition et la redaction des lois." {Mon. 
I, 362. R.) While the word had been used in the six- 
teenth century, it had disappeared since then (it is not 
in Feraud) and is practically a new creation. They 
could sanctionner a proposition. This word had begun 

' Not in Littre or Larousse. "Quand vos conventionnaires 
sauront que telle est la volonte de leur souverain." Aulard Soc. 
IV, 336. R. 


to come into use so that it is noted by Feraud, who says 
it is a neologism of Necker's ''qui me parait heureux." 
It gives us the family sanctionneur, sanctionnahle, sanc- 
tionnement, non-sanction. Or, our legislators could object 
by means of a ''declaration protestatoire contre les de- 
crets de FAssemblee Nationale" {Mon. IX, 253. R.) and 
demand the rejet ^ of the motion (the latter is noted by 
Feraud as a neologism from English). Rejet was used 
in the legal language before, as was also rejection, but it 
would appear that they were not in very general use. 
(The latter is not in Feraud.) Their great vogue at this 
time is another means of supplying the sudden demand 
for terms. In this family is developed the new rejeteur.^ 
Another example of the new liberty was "la revocahilite 
des deputes a la convention nationale." (Aul. Soc. IV, 
281. R.) This freedom, too, needed its appropriate new 
term. Measures could likewise now be stopped by the 
veto. It was possible to vetoter decrees. There was the 
veto suspensif and the veto ahsolu. The word veto (not in 
Feraud) had previously been used of the Roman tribunes 
and also of the Pohsh nobles. It now became general. 
The verb vetoter is new. Or again, it was possible to amen- 
der by means of an amendement or a sous-amendement. 
Both amender and amendement came at this time to 
the present parliamentary meaning. Previously amende- 
ment meant (Fer.) : (1) '' changement en mieux (sante etc.), 
(2) engrais de terres"; amender had the following uses 
(Fer.) : (1) " payer amende de (terme de Palais), (2) rendre 
meilleur, (3) amender des terres, (4) ce malade n'amende 
pas, (5) baisser de prix (le ble est amende), (6) (vieux) 
edition amendee.'' Again, the member's vote might be 
par acclamation. This is a new phrase. The word as a 
shout of approval is old (Fer.), but now the shout is no 
longer haphazard, it becomes regulated and recognized. 
* Littre gives XVI century examples. " Not in Littr^. 


It is a definite method of voting. The new hberty of 
parliamentary action is also seen in the creation of such 
new phrases as: poser une question (Mirabeau, Laveau, 
1802); aborder une question (Neol. fr., R.); fabrication 
des lois (R.); ordre du jour {Nouv. Diet. 1790. R.) — ''ce 
depute ne fut pas entendu, on passa a Tordre du jour.'' 
In aU these words Hberty speaks. Previously, when 
liberty was not, they did not exist, they were not needed 
by the people. Now that liberty has come, they help 
express it in speech. 

But there is another word, which, significantly enough, 
was born at this period, and which expresses the very 
essence of liberty. It is the word scissionnaire}^ It 
marks even the exaggeration of freedom. For every 
man his own opinion. Anybody can form a party. 
Every one has the right to be a scissionnaire if he wants. 
The right is widely exercised. The privilege is played 
with like a new toy. We find the record in the language. 
We see it, for instance, in the sudden and vigorous 
development of the prefix anti-. Anti- had, previous to 
1789, nothing like the vogue it acquired during the 
revolutionary period. Feraud gives the following words: 

antichretien antipathie 

antichambre antipathique 

antidate (fausse date) antiphonier -naire (livre qui 

antidote contient les antienes) 

antienne (eccl. = aiitiphon) antiphrase (centre la v6rit6) 

antinational antipodes 

antipape (usurper of the antithese 

papacy) antitketique 

Here are fourteen words, but they are of much less signifi- 
cance than even that number would imply, for as we look 

" Mozin, Die. fran.-allem., 1812, admis Acad. 1835. Die. gin. 


them over we see that in only two of them (antichretien, 
antinational) has the prefix anti- the sense in which it 
now grows most vigorously. And one of these, anti- 
national, was in a precarious position. ''L'Academie ne 
met pas ce mot," says Feraud. "II est bon et utile. II a 
bien pris." Antipape, too, is hardly used in the sense that 
such a compound would have under the hands of the 
revolutionary word makers, meaning, as it does, rather a 
rival of the pope than one opposed to him. Still, the 
number of words made with the prefix used in this lat- 
ter sense of "against" increases during the Revolution, 
according to Ranft, to twenty-two as follows: ^^ 



antipatriote " 


patriotisme ^^ 























=0= isme 




It is evident that many of these words were ephemeral, 
born of the newly acquired liberty of all men to take 
sides, to hold their own opinions, for only nine of them 
appear in Littre (marked L.). But this very evanescence 
indicates the newness of the freedom, and the excited 
interest with which words to express it were fabricated. 

11 L. means in Littr^, N., marked neol. by Littre. While Littr6 
does not give antipatriote, -tisme, he does give antipatriotique. Anti- 
politique existed before the Revolution (D. G.), though not in F^r., 
but was not apparently much used. The prefix has continued to 
be active. Littre (1873) gives fully 120 words compounded on it. 
But the growth has been largely in other directions, producing 
scientific, medical terms, etc. 


Similarly the prefix contre- was much developed. It 
gave: contre-partie, contre-epreuve, contre-r evolution, contre- 
revolutionnaire, -ment, contre-revolutionnel. From such a 
growth we see evidence that men were conscious of the 
liberty to oppose. Ultra- gave ultra-revolutionnaire. 

How the liberty of holding what political views one 
liked was overindulged in is in no way more strikingly 
indicated than by the two following lists, by no means 
complete but, even so, ridiculously large, of the various 
-istes and -ismes that swarmed forth into the newly 
arisen sun of freedom : 





(anti-) terrorisme 



















(ir) republic (an) isme 

















anti-mar atiste 












































an -isme. 



Anybody could originate an -isme. Everybody could 
be an -iste. Repression of views belonged to the dead 
past. Liberty of expression had become a mania. 

Likewise the facility with which parties could be 
formed, ideas altered, platforms proposed for acceptance, 
opinions created — in short, this new freedom of action 
and thought — is vividly illustrated by the verbs in -iser 
formed at this time.^^ 

anstocratiser (Oresme dans Meunier, Essai sur Oresme ^- repris 

pendant la Rev. D. G.) (Oresme XIV century, L.). 
democratiser (XIV century, estre en demoeratie. Oresme, 

Meunier L.) (not in D. G.). 
emmenuiser (Neol. jr. Le ci-devant royaume de France 

emmenuise en 86 departements. R.). 
federaliser (Neol. L.) (D. G. admis Acad. 1798 suppl., suppr. 

fouloniser (treat as Foulon was treated, R.). 
monsieuriser (not in L. nor D. G., but they give, as does 

Acad. 1798, monseigneuriser) . 








denationaliser L. 

nationaliser (D. G. 

1794) (Neol. L.) 
royaliser (se) 

(Neol. L.) 







monarchiser L. 


12 If marked L. the word is in Littre; if marked D. G., it is in 

the Dictionnaire generfd, otherwise not. 


pantheoniser robespierriser terroriser (D. G. 

patriotiser (se) (les finances admis Acad. 

prairialiser R.) 1878. L.) 

republicaniser L. septembriser vandaliser 


Anything and anybody could be -ised in these new days. 
A similar list of new formations in -isation could readily 
be made. Not surprising, perhaps unconsciously satirical, 
is the new growth: demagogie, demagogique, demagogisme, 
demagogiste, demagoguinette}^ 

We note now another significant growth. The families 
civ -\- and monarchi + were somewhat enlarged at this 
time. The family civ + consisted previously, as given 
by Feraud of civil, civilement, civiliser, civilite and civique. 
His comments do not indicate that the family had much 
life; he says: 

"Civique, adj. fern. II ne se dit que de la 'couronne de 
chene' recompense de celui qui, dans la guerre, avait sauve 
la vie a un Citoyen Romain. M. LeMierre dans ses Pastes 
I'emploie au lieu de civile: ' L'homme, par le lien des coutumes 
publiques, pent etre mieux uni que par les Lois civiques.' 
Le besoin d'une rime a produit Temploi de ce mot au lieu de 
civiles, qui 6tait le mot propre. Un auteur tres-moderne, 
ou peut-etre son Imprimeur, a dit, au contraire courone 
civile pour civique. El. de M. I'Ab. BourdeHn." 

However, in the Revolutionary time the word civique 
was no longer in this precarious position. It became, 
on the contrary, rather popular. Ranft gives numerous 
examples of its use, particularly in phrases more or less 
set, such as: carte civique, degradation civique, inscription 
civique, serment civique, tableau civique. Two new words 
appear in the group, viz., civisme and civiquement. We 
find especially certificat de civisme, also Vesprit de civisme 

" Even demagogue is not in Fer., but is in Acad. 76. 


(Mon. 1, 420 a), ''son civisme et ses vertus vous sont 
connus" (Cazales, Mon. Y, 90 a), ''un ecclesiastique 
doue d'un civisme incontestable. '^ (Mirabeau. IV, 132) 
Of the family monarchi +, Feraud gives as in use 
before the Revolution four words, to which Ranft adds 
three new ones, made in the Revolutionary period. 
Before the Revolution there were: 

monarchie. Feraud's example is scarcely of a post-revolu- 
tion character — ''La Monarchie est la forme de gou- 
vernement la plus parfaite.'\ The word, he says, often 
means "empire, royaume." 


* monarchiste. "Mot nouveau, employ^ par M. Raynal 
pour signifier un partisan de la Monarchie." 

monarchisme. "Un autre ecrivain dit monarchisme: 'mo- 
narchisme universel, dont le projet, atribue a Louis XIV 
fut un fantome poHtique.' Anon." 

This family, also, like civ +, seems to be in a situation 
none too secure. During the Revolution, however mo- 
narchiste and monarchisme acquired a position no longer 
dubious, and three new words were formed: 

monarchiser. (Mercier.) 

monarchien. "Supporter of the constitutional monarchy 
(Const, of 1791)." "Vous pretendez qu'ils sont mo- 
narchiens." Aulard Soc. I, 469. " La fantaisie clubique 
ou monarchienne de quelques individus." Mon. VII, 

monarchicide {Neol. jr. 'des projets monarchicides,') (Lav. '99). 

The spirit of liberty which in the Revolution time 
inspired men to acts of unwonted freedom, which moti- 
vated so many starthng transfers in all phases of life, 
seems to have infected the words also. Like the men, 
those that were yesterday one thing seem seized with a 
fancy to become to-day something else. Like the men 


they seem to act on the merest caprice. In their world, 
too, all the previous barriers seem to have been broken, 
the contents of all compartments to have been inter- 
changed. As every man wears the badge of liberty, so 
each word seems to turn its meaning to express in some 
way or other the new idea and seems to feel free to forget 
a previous restriction to the vocabulary of philosophy, 
theology, the courts, commerce, ancient or foreign history. 
No word is so fossilized as to be unable to become a 
vehicle in some degree for the new thought. 

Many words were already existing in the language, 
but in a state of dignified retirement, not much used 
because not often needed. These now were called forth 
to meet the new needs and used with great frequency. 
Their meanings, in general being already suitable, were 
not changed greatly. Some of these are: antinational 
(see p. 174); decret (formerly applied as in the phrases, 
"les decrets de la Providence, du pape," or meaning 
''judicial order"; now it means also "a legislative order"); 
monarchiste, monarchisme (both noted, we remember, 
rather hesitantly by Feraud); rejection, rejet. Such 
words now under the new conditions found ample em- 

Other words were brought back to use from long 
obHvion. They had been in existence at one time or 
another, but had long since fallen into disuse. Now 
they were found to be of value in expressing the new 
ideas. In such cases the operation amounts practically 
to new creation.^* Such are: 

" This is borne out in the case of words from Oresme by the 
following from Darmesteter's Creation actuelle de mots nouveaux, 
p. 231: "Les oeuvres d'Oresme, cependant, bieu que fort appreci6es 
en leur temps, furent de bonne heure oubhees; aussi la plupart des 
termes grecs employes par le vieux traducteur n'entrerent que plus 
tard dans la langue et furent repris a la source grecque." 


aristocratiser (Oresme, Meunier, XIV century, D. G. and L.) ; 

arrestation (D. G. cites it in 1370. Not in Fer.) ; 

antipolitique (D. G. has one example, XVII century. Not in 

antipopulaire (One example in Mercier. Not in Fer.) ; 

constitutionnaire (meant once 'supporter of the Bull Uni- 
genitus,' Littre. Not in Fer.); 

degrever (XIV S., D. G. Not in Fer.); 

democratiser (XIV S., Littr6. Not in Fer.); 

federation (XIV S., D. G. Not in Fer.); 

initiative (XVI S., D. G. Not in Fer.); 

insurger (Cotgrave, 1611, D. G. Not in Fer., but insurgens 
is. Insurgent, however, underwent a very marked 
change in application; see p. 165); 

insurgence (Linguet, 1782, applied to the American Revolu- 
tion. Cited by Gohin. Not in F^r.) ; 

republic (an) isme (D'Argenson, 1750, D. G. Not in Fer.); 

urgence (1572, D. G. XVII century, Littre. Not in Fer., 
but he gives urgent, in two phrases only, however). 

All these words, none of which, we note, were given in 
Feraud's pre-Revolutionary dictionary, were now suddenly 
found very useful, and arose to great activity. 

Many words not only awoke to use but also in addition 
became very prolific and had famihes grow up about 
them. Some of these have already been treated, others 
will be discussed in the chapter on authority. Exam- 
ples are: 

arrestation, which, brought back to use, gave arrestateur; 
departement, old, gave departementaire, departemental, 

patriote, old, gave 18 words; 
royaliste, old, gave 4 words; 
federation, which had been defunct since the fourteenth 

century, now became very much alive and increased 

largely (see Chap. VI). 


Others, already existing in small groups, increased to 
large groups. For example: 

revolution + , from 1 to 16; 
constitution + , from 4 to 17; 
aristocrate + , from 2 to 14; 
elire + , from 6 to 15; 
democratie + , from 3 to 7; 
republique + , from 2 (F6r.) to 14. 

Thus conservative immobility was replaced by riotous 

In some cases words merely had their meanings altered 
in ways not particularly significant. For example, 
alterner, previously applied only to persons, now was 
applied to towns; resumer, previously transitive, now 
became reflexive; voter, previously intransitive, became 
transitive, and one not merely voted in the sense of 
casting a ballot, but voted a measure or a subsidy; ses- 
sion, previously meaning the sitting of a council, now 
came to mean the time of such sitting, etc. These 
changes indicate, perhaps, nothing but the general unrest, 
the license with which alterations took place. 

Many others, however, are quite plainly for the de- 
Uberate purpose of suiting the words to use as govern- 
mental terms, showing that the people felt free to take 
what they wanted wherever they found it: 

assignat formerly meant, "assignation d'une rente sur un 
heritage" (Acad. 76); now it was used for, "billet 
d'etat dont le payement ^tait assigne sur la vente des 
biens nationaux" (Acad. 98, Suppl.); 

commettant, formerly, "(commerce) celui qui charge un autre 
d'une affaire" (Acad. 76), now, " constituant " ; 

decret, formerly, "les decrets de la Providence, du pape, les 
decrets ^ternels, du ciel, de I'^glise, d'un concile"; or 
a judicial word (Fer.), now, "acte du corps l^gislatif" 


majorite) formerly used of age, now in the parliamentary 

minorite ) sense; 

notables, formerly, ^'well-known citizens, I'Assemblee des 

Notables" (Acad. 76), now, ''representatives" (Acad. 

98, Suppl.); 
radiation, formerly, " (finance et pratique) II se dit lorsque, 

par autorite de Justice, on raye quelque article d'un 

compte pour le rendre nul" (Acad. 76); now, "striking 

a person from a public list" (R.); 
section, formerly, a mathematical term, or the section of a 

book (Acad. 76) ; now, division of a city (R.) ; 
fratemiser, formerly, to live in brotherly relations, now, to 

enter into political union; 
ajournement, formerly, a summons to court (Fer.), now, in 

the parliamentary sense, adjournment of a meeting. 

In this way old words were transferred to suit the new 

Let us note now a few definite examples of transfer 
from the vocabularies of the courts, of commerce, of 
philosophy, and of the church, since terms from all these 
sources were requisitioned. It is like the pillaging of 
the chateaux. The judicial language gave: 

ajournement, ajourner, formerly, "termes de pratique, 
assignation, assigner a tel jour, assigner des temoins" 
(Fer.); now, "renvoi d'une deliberation k un jour in- 
dique" (Acad. 98, Suppl.); 

constituant, formerly, "adj., qui constitue un procureur" 
(Fer.), now, member of the Assemblee Constitute, 
(Acad. 98 Suppl.) or supporter of the constitution (R.); 

'decret, decreter, "ne se dit qu'au palais " (Fer.), now, of 
"actes du corps legislatif " (Acad. 98, Suppl.); 

mandat, formerly, power of attorney, proxy, "au palais, et 
rescrit du Pape " (Fer.), now, mandat of a deputy; 

mandataire, formerly, "celui en faveur duquel le Pape a 
fait expedier un mandat" (Fer.), now, "mandataire du 


petition, "ne se dit qu'au palais et en philosophic. De- 
mande faite en justice pour obtenir la propri^t^ d'un 
heritage" (Fer.), now, "demande addressee a une 
autorite publique" (Acad. 98, Suppl.). 

The language of commerce gave : 

assignat,^^ formerly, "rente sur un heritage," now, ''billet 
d'etat" (seep. 181); 

commetant, formerly, ''employer," now, "elector"; 

mandat, formerly, "check, draft," now, "mandat d'un repre- 

The language of the philosophy furnished: 

petition, formerly, "ne se dit qu'en philosophic ou au palais. 
Petition de question" (Fer.), now, "demandc adress4e 
k une autorite publique" (Acad. 98, Suppl.); 

permanent. Formerly one spoke of "felicity permanente," 
now of "une assemblee permanente." 

The church contributed: 

decret, formerly used of "les decrets de la Providence, du 

Pape," now, "of the corps legislatif "; 
decretiste, formerly, "a teacher of church law" (R.)., now 

"one who has received a decret" (Lav. 99. R.); 
constitutionnaire, formerly, "a supporter of the Bull Uni- 

genitus" (Littre), though the new word can hardly be 

called the same but rather a new creation on the root 

of constitution; 
mandat, formerly, "a papal order," now, "the mandat of a 

representative "; 
nominal, formerly, "prieres nominates," now, "appel 

permanence, formerly, "ne se dit que du Corps de Notre 

Seigneur" (Fer.); now, "la permanence de T Assemblee 

Nationale" (Mir. I, 143 a. R.); 
unitaire, formerly, "secte qui ne reconnait qu'une seule 

personne en Dieu (Lav.), now, the opposite of federaliste. 

15 Not in F^r., but in Acad. 76. 


These are a few examples of how all vocabularies were 
rifled to get terms to express adequately the many new 
ideas that had so suddenly to be named. These whole- 
sale appropriations, the easy freedom with which old 
barriers were passed, old categories violated, old classi- 
fications upset, shows the spirit of untrammeled liberty 
working in the language. We can see still further exam- 
ples of it. 

Historical associations of long standing were swept 
away in the language as elsewhere. Formerly the word 
electeur was apphed mostly to the German states, '*Elec- 
teur de Saxe," etc., though Feraud says, "il me parait 
qu'on le dit de tous ceux qui ehsent"; insurrection was 
used in speaking of the Poles, of the island of Crete, and, 
just previously, of the North American colonies; insur- 
gent (insurgens) meant either Hungarian militia or the 
North American colonists; royaliste was used either of 
the civil wars in England or of the wars of the League. 
Now, however, each of these words was used of con- 
temporary French events and people. We find, *'Les 
Electeur s seront choisis par les assemblees primaires" 
(Mir. II, 321. R.); '^L'arrivee des troupes serait le signal 
d'une insurrection generale." (Mon. I, 160. R.) We 
hear of *'les insurgents frangais," and Camille Desmoulins 
calls M. Dumouriez ''un royaliste.^^ 

Words were appropriated from all countries and foreign 
systems. Where hberty had been most developed, and 
where in consequence a terminology for it had arisen, 
there the men of the Revolution drew freely. England 
naturally furnished, especially in the early days, a mine 
for names as it did a model for institutions. Republican 
Rome is a close second. That the Enghsh influence was 
felt to be strong, and that there was perhaps some sensi- 
tiveness on the point is shown by a remark in the Die- 


tionnaire national et anecdotique (Politicopolis, 1790, R.) 
at the word municipalite. ''Mot," it says, ''que nous 
avons fait sans le secours des Anglais." In other new 
words and in many alterations of usage, however, the 
'secours des Anglais' was used. Under English influence 
the following innovations occurred: 

adresse changed from meaning "le dessus d'une lettre, lieu 
ou on les adresse," to such a use as "adresse aux com- 

(anti)constitutioiinel came into the language. Feraud says 
of this word, "a la mode depuis qu'on parle tant 

club and its large group came into the language. 

comite took the place of bureau (Fer., Die. nat.), of conseil 
{Die. nat.), and even of assemblee (Fer.), and had a 
large development in such combinations as "comity de 
salut public." 

convention changed from the meaning "acord, pacte" (Fer.) 
to mean "assembly." 

initiative was brought back into use after lying dormant since 
the fourteenth century (D. G.). 

jure changed from meaning "qui a fait les serments requis 
pour la maitrise-chirurgien, jure crieur, maitre jure" 
(Fer.), to the present use in court parlance. 

juri, jury and jureur appeared in general use (though used 
somewhat before by Voltaire). 

legislature, not in Feraud nor Acad. 76, now became very 
general as meaning "assemblee legislative." Mirabeau 
says (I, 215. R.), "Je ne sais si, dans ce moment ou la 
legislature n'est pas encore nee, on comprend bien ce 
mot; mais il n'y en a pas d'autre parmi nous, pour 
rendre la meme idee." 

liste civile, loi martiale, as expressions came into use. 

majorite, minorite, acquired their special parliamentary 
sense already mentioned. 

petition was transferred from the philosophical to the govern- 
mental vocabulary. 


royaliste was turned definitely to contemporary conditions 

and vivified so that it produced four other words. 
session made the change noted above. 

These changes illustrate the English influence. It so 
happens that we very fortunately find available on this 
point the means for an interesting investigation. We 
may wonder just how such ideas would have been ex- 
pressed before attention was turned so observantly to 
England. What, for instance, would a writer have done 
before this if he had had occasion to translate from 
English a passage containing such words as those above? 
Chambaud's Enghsh-French Dictionary, published in 
1778, will furnish interesting light on this situation. 

For Eng. address (indication) he gives Fr. adresse; (skill), 
Fr. adresse; (epistle dedicatory), Fr. d^dicace; but for 
address in the new sense (although he translates the expres- 
sions "Address of the Lords, an address to the king," by 
''L'adresse des Lords, une adresse au Roi") he does not 
give as a French word adresse, but "requete, placet, sup- 

For Eng. constitutional he gives no corresponding French 
adjective, but the expression ''qui est conforme a la con- 

For Eng. club, not Fr. club, but coterie, societe. 

For Eng. committee he gives Fr. comite. 

For Eng. convention (assembly) not Fr. convention, but 

For Eng. jury (collective sense), "tribunal de 12 ou 24 
jures qui font serment de juger sur la deposition des temoins 
jures." But he does not give as French the words used in 
Mon, I, 535, V. 423, etc., viz. juri and jury (collective). 

For Eng. legislature, not Fr. legislature, but "la puissance 

For majority (of voters), not majorite, but "pluralite, la 
plus grande partie." 


For minority, not minorite (he gives this, as also majorite, 
in reference to age), but ''le petit nombre." 

For Eng. petition, not Fr. petition, but ''requete, placet, 
supplique, demande, priere, petitoire; v. presenter un placet 
au roi, demander, soUiciter, supplier," but not petitionner. 

Royaliste he gives. 

Session he gives. 

We see here, then, testimony that except in three cases 
{comite, royaliste, session) of the dozen mentioned above, 
even in an EngHsh-French dictionary, the temptation 
to transliterate such words in rendering them into 
French was resisted or was not felt. It is quite evident 
that at the time of this dictionary (1778) such words 
were not considered as having any standing in the French 

The Roman republic, too, was a model from which the 
reformers took many suggestions and many terms. It 
was the fashion to imitate things Roman. ''Domergue," 
says Brunot,^^ ''commengait ses lettres comme eut fait 
Varron; Urbain Domergue a Pierre Lehardy, salut!" 
^'Disons Condorcet, Payne," Brissot proposed,^^ ''comme 
on disait a Rome, Caton, Ciceron, Brutus." The popular 
orators proclaimed the regeneration of the human species 
through a return to the civilization of the Greeks and the 
Romans. ''The orator ^^ proposes his motion, mounts a 
chair. If he is applauded, it is put into shape. If he 
is hissed he goes away. This was the way with the 
Romans." It is a fashion that is destined to develop 
more and more. Soon the austerity of the Republic will 
be abandoned for the sumptuousness of the Empire 
(both terms Republique and Empire being used), the 
consul will become empereur, furniture will be style empire, 

16 Petit de JulleviUe, VII, 834. 

" Brunot, in Petit de JulleviUe, VII, 833. 

,18 Taine, Rev., I, p. 92. 


and we shall see the pictures of the school of David. 
Meanwhile the words are beginning to come in. 

citoyen, which was before seldom used except in the phrase 
"citoyen remain, " now became very common as an 
everyday title of address. 

civique hkewise. It was before heard almost exclusively 
in the phrase "couronne civique'* of the Romans. 
It, too, with the large group to which it belongs, became 
one of the most usual of the new words. F^raud 
(1787) criticized it and wanted instead the already 
estabhshed civile, but it survived. 

consul came into use. 

decemvirs was the name apphed to Robespierre and his 

dicemviral was the adjective used in such expressions as 
''la constitution decemvirale." 

triumvirs was also used in reference to Robespierre, Couthon, 
and Dumas. 

decimetre, centimetre, etc. were introduced into the new 
system of measures. Also we read that ''un membre 
a propose de diviser la garde nationale en centuries et 
decuries." (Aulard Soc.) R. 71. 

deportation, formerly the name of an ancient Roman penalty 
C'L'Academie ne le dit que de Tanciene Rome, mais on 
peut I'appliquer en certains cas aux peuples modernes." 
Fer.) now was spoken of currently: ''le directoire du 
d^partement du Bas-Rhin avait condamn6 a la de- 
portation un ci-devant chanoine." (Aulard Soc. IV, 488) 

municipe, the Roman title, now became a title for the maire; 

Pantheon became the name of the church of Ste. Genevieve 
and the words pantheoniser, pantheonisation appeared. 

tribune came to be the name of the place from which Mira- 
beau, like Cicero, spoke. 

le tribunat was instituted by the constitution of the year 


tribunal r^volutionnaire was the name of a criminal court 
under the Terror (Lav.). 

veteran, formerly applied to the Roman soldier, was now 
transferred to the French army. 

veto, a privilege of the Roman tribune, now became a func- 
tion of the Revolutionary assemblies. 

From ancient Greece came : 

pentarche, a name for the five Directeurs; also pentarchat, 

deca- and hecto-, and, supposedly, kilo- for the metric 

prytanee frangais as the name for the training establishment 

for the sons of officials. 

The Italian republics furnished procurateurs (de la nation). 

It may be a matter of some surprise that more terms 
were not taken from the American revolution and the 
newly established government of the United States. 
It is true that republic, democracy, liberty, constitution, 
etc., had been the text words of the American movement 
as they now were of the French. But it is hard to say 
just how much connection there is between the two uses. 
On the whole there does not appear to have been a 
direct borrowing of many words. However, ''it has been 
said frequently that the philosophy on which our [the 
United States] government rests has been furnished by 
French thinkers, while the mechanism of this govern- 
ment is the heritage of the experience of the Anglo-Saxon 
race." ^^ If this is true, there would be little occasion 
for the French to borrow from us. The transfer of 
abstract terms was more probably going in the other 
direction; while the definite terms of mechanism and 
the names of details the French were getting first hand 

19 "A recent expression from the pen of John Jay Chapman, 
which was written in French and which I have translated for the 
Times." — Beatrice Chanler, N. Y. Times, Sept. 6, 1915. 


from the same source that the Americans were, namely 
England. It is possible that the use oi federal + may have 
been influenced by America; also convention in the new 
sense. Insurgent, insurgence and insurrection were all 
applied to the American Revolution, and probably grew 
into French usage from that. But these are about the 
only words traceable to the new republic. 

Thus the new movement went where it pleased in 
history and geography for its names — to England, to 
ancient Rome and Greece, to Italy, to America. Ger- 
many was in no position to furnish the type of words 
wanted. There is no word of German origin in Ranft. 
We see that in the vocabulary there is no longer the 
limitation of conservatism and aristocracy. The freedom 
of eclecticism prevails. 

We have seen how, in order to give adequate expres- 
sion to the new ideas, the language was treated with the 
utmost freedom. We have seen how some words were 
snatched from retirement and forced into common use. 
Others, which had been resting for a century or more in 
oblivion, were sought out and recreated. Some were 
stirred up to the production of large new related groups. 
Still others were transferred from the language of the 
courts, of commerce, of philosophy, of the church, to 
that of the new governmental and social system. And 
many were gleaned from all the fields of history and 
geography. There was still another method of adapta- 
tion that was pursued at this time by the word makers. 

They had no hesitation, if it seemed desirable, in 
suiting words to their needs by altering their meaning 
from a literal to a figurative one, or from a general to a 
particular, or, vice versa, from a specific to a general. 
Examples of those that had been literal and that now 
became figurative are: 


niveler. F^raud gives as example of the former use, ''niveler 
une al\6e." The orators of the Revolution are fond of 
such expressions as ''niveler les hommes, niveler au 
rang de tous." Feraud mentions and justifies, as 
does the Academy Dictionary, a figurative use of 
niveau, but not, however, of niveler. 

amender : formerly, ''il n'y a que Dieu qui le puisse amender " 
(Fer.); now, "L'Assemblee Nationale, amendant le 
decret ..." 

The following changed from a specific to a general sense: 

agitateur. Not in F^r. nor Acad. 76, but given by Ranft as 
used only in the expression ''Conseil des Agitateurs" 
in English history. Now, "les agitateurs denoncent et 
cherchent a diviser les patriotes." (Aul. Soc. Ill, 530. R.) 

avoue, formerly, ''patron of a church" (R.), acquired two 
new senses, the first only slightly generalized, "proxy 
of a soldier in the militia"; the second, very much so, 
"lawyer," the present use. 

barre, formerly, "lieu ou se font quelques instructions de 
proces, et les adjudications de biens par decret" (F6r.), 
now becomes a designation for the place where out- 
siders stand when addressing the assembly, and thence 
reaches the figurative sense of "accusation." 

constituer, from use in such expressions as "constituer 
quelqu'un juge, prisonnier," etc.; now expanded, 
becoming reflexive, to cover a variety of ideas: "se 
constituer en assemblee, ces etats bien constitues, une 
monarchie constituee, le principe qui nous constitue 
representants." Also the wide use of 

constituant is part of this broadening. 

constitutionnaire formerly meant merely a single thing — 
"supporter of the Bull Unigenitus " ; now it could refer 
to the supporter of any constitution, at this time, 
particularly the Constitution. 

insurrection, appHed previously to the Poles and Cretans, 
now became applicable to people. 


insurgent likewise became generalized from its previous 

application only to the United States or the Hungarian 

insurgence, from meaning merely 'Hhe party of revolution 

in America/' came to mean insurrection in general — 

"provocation a Tinsurgence." 

Other words passed through the opposite process, and 
whereas they had been general words, now became more 
specific. Constitution, formerly ''les constitutions," laws 
in general, and revolution, formerly "une revolution" in 
general, but now " La Constitution " and " La Revolution," 
are examples of this. All words, in fact, which we may 
say acquired a capital letter or which altered the article 
from the indefinite to the definite, are part of this move- 
ment. Of these we may mention: 

La Democratie, now the French government at a particular 
time, formerly, 'la democratic', a general principle of 

La Republique. Of this word Nyrop says (IV, 218): "il 
s'employait jusqu'a la fin du XVIII S. pour designer 
toute sorte d'etat ou de gouvernement. Bodin ^crit en 
1576, 'il n'y a que trois estats ou trois sortes de r4- 
publiques, a sgavoir, la monarchic, I'aristocratie, et la 
democratic.' Et dans le Contrat Social, J. J. Rous- 
seau: 'J'appelle republique tout etat regi par les lois, 
sous quelque forme d'administration que ce puisse 
6tre.' Pour les hommes de 1789 4a Republique etait 
le gouvernement democratique, et republique perdit 
son ancien sens general' "; 

La Liberte, which from the state of a very general word now 
acquired a very definite meaning, and came to signify 
for each man very special things; 

La Terreur, which was no longer la terreur; 

La MarseiUaise, formerly, merely an ordinary adjective, 
now, restricted to one special thing; 

Le Tricolore, now began to mean a very particular thing; 


acclamation, formerly, a shout of approval, now, a special 
way of voting; 

ajourner, ajoumement, formerly, simply "summons," now 
in the present special parliamentary sense; 

correctionnel, previously meaning "of a general tendency 
to improve," now used in such special phrases as "peine 
correctionnelle, police correctionnelle, tribunal cor- 

desemparer, previously merely "abandoner, quitter — de- 
semparer la ville, les habitans ont desempare; desem- 
parer un vaisseau = le demater " (Fer.) ; now, very much 
specialized, meaning practically "adjourn": ". . . pro- 
posait de la demander sans delai et de ne pas d^semparer 
qu'il ne Teut obtenue " (Mir. I, 358); 

fratemiser, which previously meant merely "to live like 
brothers," now added to this meaning the restricting 
phrase, "in the matter of political relations"; 

monarchisme, monarchiste, once applicable in a general 
way, now applied to particular current ideas. Whereas 
"il est monarchiste" once meant "he believes in a 
certain general theory of government," now it meant 
"he upholds a certain special present practice." 

priorite, previously, simply "the state of being before" 
now, with this meaning particularly in reference to a 
motion or speech in an assembly; 

prud'homme, "homme de bien, d'honneur (vieux)." (Fer.); 
now, "assesseur de juge de paix" (R.); 

requisition, previously, "request, desire," now in such 
special phrases as "la requisition de marchandises." 

Thus did a large group of words pass from the hazy 
realms of generality, and become very clear-cut and 

Further, the social scale in the realm of words as in 
other realms had become a sliding one. Standards of 
measurement were altered or even reversed. Some 
words thus found themselves exalted, some degraded. 
Think, for instance, of the comparative status of "le 


peuple" and ''le roi" before '89. Then think of it after 
that time; there is no authority above '^le peuple/' there 
is no infamy deeper than to be ^'un roi.'* Monsieur and 
Chevalier traverse the whole social scale. From the 
ballrooms of Versailles monsieur comes to be associated 
with every fishmonger's name, chevalier to companion- 
ship with 'brigand' and 'vagabond.' ''Quels sont ces 
vagabonds? Ce sont les chevahers du poignard, les 
brigands arrives de Coblenz." {Mon. XII, 424.) What 
a fall is there! But others, paralleling many a career of 
the time, in the morning terms of scorn, found themselves 
in the evening potent names. Sans-culotte, originally a 
term of insult, was eagerly caught up and dignified into 
one of the most popular of party names.^^ It became 
a favorite element for the word makers. It gave: 

sans-culotterie sans-culottisation 

sanS'Culottisme desans-culottiser 

sanS'Culottide (used in Repub. Cal.) sans-culottier, -iere 
sans-culottiser culotte 


It was parodied in sans-jupon and pantalonne. The hum- 
ble Jacques also saw itself the sponsor of a dozen words 
of at least the rank of party titles. 

The position of words was subject to the most erratic 
alteration. Words that had previously been used only 
by kings and in reference to princes now found them- 
selves abruptly requisitioned, like the chateaux and 
other property of their former masters, by the common 
people who once would not have dared to use these 
honorable appellatives even if they had thought of doing 
so. Who but a king once talked of souverainetef But 
now 'la souverainete du peuple' was a phrase on every 
man's Hps. It was the pope once who issued mandats, 

2" Cf. "Roundhead" and many party names in all countries. 


It was for emperors and conquering generals to make 
proclamations. Now, a representative has a mandat 
from the people, and the National Assembly makes 
proclamations. Previously bishops might discuss perma- 
nence, now the people talk of the permanence of the 
guillotine. So with conseil, so with Use-. There are 
no longer any restrictions in the vocabulary, any inclosed 
preserves. A man may go where he likes in the language 
as elsewhere. 

Proper names are used with the utmost freedom to 
form the basis for compounds. The party names made 
from such sources, the -istes, the -ismes, are almost 
innumerable. Robespierre's name furnishes a whole 
category: rohespierrisme, rohespierriste, rohespierriser, rohes- 
pierrot. Brissot, Danton, Marat, almost every well- 
known name, does likewise. Beside rolandiser comes 
also derolandiser. There are still other formations: 
la Marseillaise J guillotine and guillotiner, etc.; avignoniser, 
a fantastic word meaning 'Ho annex as was done to 
Avignon,'^ ''avignoniser Geneve." ^i 

In the vocabulary as in other things, liberty runs riot 
into fancy and absurdity. Here, too, fads and fashions 
of the most capricious sort prevail. Such a word as 
revolutionnaire, being popular, must have its counter- 

21 This method of word formation is apparently always a favorite 
one and one which people are tempted to exercise more freely than 
successfully. For instance, a note in a recent daily paper said, 
"Certain enthusiastic souls in England propose to introduce 'to 
warneford ' into the language as a verb meaning to destroy a Zeppe- 
lin with an aeroplane. They point to boycott, bessemerize, etc." 
An editorial in the New York Times said recently, speaking of a 
politician, "It is superfluous to characterize this frank project of 
confiscation. Will the EngHsh language be enriched with the 
verb to walshf'^ Probably not. The Due de Reichstadt is made 
to say (Act II), "L'avoir trahi — due de Raguse — toi! Et pour 
dire trahir le peuple a fabrique le verbe raguser." 


parts in constitutionnaire, conventionnaire, decadaire, divi- 
sionnaire, fonctionnaire, guillotinaire, garnisaire, inser- 
mentaire, insurredionnaire, irrevolutionnaire, motionnairey 
{co)petitionnaire, reactionnaire, retro-revolutionnaire, sds- 
sionnaire, signataire. Aristocrate and democrate together 
popularize the sufiix -crate, -cratie, and we have calotino- 
crate, cluhocratie, sacerdocratie, sanguinocrates. Then there 
is the fashion of words in -icide, such as populidde, patrio- 
ticide, nation{om)icide, plebicide; the fashion in -archie, 
from monarchie perhaps, giving canaillarchie, etc.; the 
fashion of words in Use-; the fashion of the suffix ^ade 
and many others. 

The prevalent tendency of the time towards the fan- 
tastic and the picturesque is visible very plainly in the 
additions to the vocabulary. We have seen avignoniser. 
The abundance of words concerning the death penalty is 
of a character extremely vivid and imaginative, some- 
times even shockingly facetious (see p. 226). The new 
names of the months also stimulated the imagination, 
and there arose prairialiser , vendemiariser, vendemiariste.- 
This method was also apphed to the old names, giv- 
ing septemhriser, septemhrisade, septemhriseur, septemhriste. 
The play with proper names was of the most curious 
character. We find also in this category: 

baboeufien, babouviste, babouvisme (from Baboeuf) ; 

bamaverie (from Barnave) ; 

bentaboliser (to use words in the burlesque fashion of Ben- 

tabole); brissotiser, -iner (to graft like Brissot, or to 

establish brissotins (agents) everywhere); 
chenille (from Chenier) ''les Lions- Jacobins ont ^te renvers^s, 

peut-on craindre les Louveteaux et les Chenilles?" 

louveteau (from Louvet) ; 
philippotin (from Philippeaux) ; 
robespierrot (follower of Robespierre), robespierriser. 


Many methods of composition and formation which in 
their origin were logical enough, when pushed to extremes 
and played with as they now were, gave ridiculous results. 
This has been shown in many of the -iste, -isme, and 
particularly the -iser words. Also the prefixes were 
frequently productive of absurd monstrosities, especially 
when several of them were used in the same word. Many 
of the anti- words are rather amusing; in-, im- gave 
several peculiar results {impatriote, etc.); non- also, 
especially with other prefixes, e.g., non-reeligihilite. We 
find also such mixtures as desans-culottiser, retro-revolu- 
tionnaire, dejacohiniser. Lese- was used sometimes with 
rather remarkable results, as in lese-contre-r evolution. ^^ 
The suffix -crate gave some curious words: calotinocrate, 
i.e., the priests (R., Littre, Suppl. II, gives an example 
from Diderot of calotin, abbe) ; culocratie, the 1st National 
Assembly, because it voted by rising; sacerdocratie ; san- 
guinocratie, rule of Robespierre; -icide also: natwn{om)i- 
cide, sodeticide, plehicide. Many of these curiosities 
are in the form of puns: feuillantiquement, from 
Feuillant, a party name; mirabellement, "un discours 
mirabellement compose" (; republicoquin, rascal 
of a repubhcan; rohespierrot, follower of Robespierre. 
Guillotine gave some eccentric words: guillotinable, 
guillotinement. Biscameriser, a word of Anarchis Cloots; 
canaillarchie, sl name of the aristocrats for the people; 
repuhlicomane, are noteworthy. Demagoguinette should 
perhaps not be mentioned in these days of suffrage dis- 
cussion, tllire gave some peculiar compounds, difficult 
to utter, of which non-reeligibilite may serve as an example. 
Some words like irrevolutionnairement, contre-revolution- 
nairement were built up to almost Teutonic proportions 
by means of prefixes and suflSxes used in profusion. 
Others, mostly party names, attained the same size by the 
^ Cf . super-submarine recently in American newspapers. 


aid of hyphens: rolando-hrissotin, fanatico-royaliste, re- 
puhlico-chouans, democrato-despote, jacohino-repuhlicain, and 
last but not least aristo-rohino-theocratie. 

These are but a small fraction of the whole number 
of words that might be cited. Formations of this char- 
acter actually swarm in contemporary records. Probably 
there were other legions that were not preserved. Al- 
though many happened to be preserved, few of them have 
become a part of the real language and are alive to-day. 
This fact, however, rather increases than diminishes the 
significance of the phenomenon. The very mass of 
these mushroom creations shows the excited interest in 
words that the men of this time had. It is proof of the 
force with which the new ideas penetrated into the realm 
of the vocabulary. It is a sure indication of the im- 
portance that the men of the Revolution attached to 
the creation of names for things and thoughts, and to 
the expression of their ideas by means of language as 
well as by means of political and social organizations. 
How many of the alterations of the language caused by 
the idea of liberty were transitory and how many were 
permanent can be seen from the following summary of 
the words treated in this chapter. Those marked * 
underwent a change of meaning or of use, but were not 
newly created; those not marked * were new creations. 
Those (not considering phrases) marked L. are given in 
Littr^ (in their Revolutionary meaning if starred), the 
others are not. They are arranged in the order treated. 

revolution * 





ultrarevolutionnaire L. 



contre-revolution L. 


contre-revolutionnaire L. 


contre-revolutionnairement L. 



contre-revolutionnel ^3 

23 Littre gives also contre-revolutionner, which, however, is not 
found in Ranft. 


revolutionner L. 



constituer * L. 

constituant * L. 

constitutionnaire L. 

constitutionnalite L. 

inconstitue L. 




anti-constitutionnel L. 



constitutionnellfcment L. 


bulletin des lois L. 

insurgent * 

insurrection * L. 

insurgence * L. 

insurger L. 

insurrecteur L. 


insurrectionnel L. 

convention * L. 

conventionnel * L. 


assemblee +* L. 

initiative L. 

sanctionner * L. 





protestatoire L. 

rejet * L. 

rejection * L. 


motion * L. 

revocabilite L. 

veto * L. 


amender * L. 

amendement * L. 

sous-amendement L. 

acclamation * L. 

ordre du jour * L. 

scissionnaire L. 
anti- (23 words, of which 

only 9 appear in L.) 

contre-partie L. 

contre-epreuve L. 
55 in -iste 
43 in -isme 
41 in -iser 

mostly all dis- 
appeared now. 








civique * 







monarchisme * 
monarchiste * 





d^cret * 
arrest ati on 
alterner * 
(se) r^sumer * 
voter * 
session * 
assignat * 
commettant * 
majority * 
minority * 
notables * 
radiation * 
section * 
fraterniser * 
ajournement * 
mandat * 
representative * 
petition * 
permanent * 
permanence * 
d^cr^tiste * 
nominal * 
unitaire * 
61ecteur * 
royaliste * 
adresse * 
agitateur * 
club + 
jure * 
juri, jury, jureur 




citoyen * L. 

consul * L. 

decemvirs * L. 

decemviral L. 

triumvirs * L. 

decimetre L. 

centimetre L. 

centuries * 

decuries * 

deportation * L. 

municipe * 

Pantheon * L. 



tribune * L. 

tribunat * L. 

veteran * L. 

pentarche (L. gives pen- 


pentarchat L. 

pentarchie L. 

prytanee L. 

d^ca- + L. 

hecto- + L. 

kilo + L. 

niveler * L. 

avou^ * L. 

barre * L. 

correctionnel * L. 

d^semparer * L. 

priority * L. 

prud'homme * L. 

requisition * L. 
sans-culotte * 

guillotine L. 


and the words discussed pp. 195-6, party names, practically all 

• Here then are some 150 words. Add to these the 55 
in -iste, the 41 in -iser, the 43 in -isme and we have 289. 
Add the 57 party names and we have 346, which is a 
conservative rough estimate of the number of words felt 
to be necessary for the adequate expression of the idea of 
Hberty as it was newly understood at the time of the 
Revolution. Of these, 66 were not new creations, but 
words whose meaning or use was altered. That leaves 
280 new words, or, leaving out of consideration the -iste, 
-isme, etc., words, and discussing only those in the Ust, 
84 words of importance newly created to name this idea. 
We may wonder how many of the 150 words in our Hst 
have remained permanently in the language, and how 
many were merely transitory, hke the -iste, -isme and 
-iser words and the party names. If we take as an 
approximate standard their presence in Littre, we find 
that 113 (marked L.) are given there, leaving only 37 
that have not survived. 

Terminology for the Idea of Democracy 

We have seen how the language was adjusted to the 
new idea of equahty and to that of Hberty. Now let us 
consider the third great idea whose introduction into 
the mind of the nation at the time of the Revolution 
caused the growth of a large mass of words — the idea 
of authority, a new authority, that of the people. We 
have seen that to the idea of equality are traceable about 
134 words which were either newly created or altered in 
use or meaning; to the idea of liberty about 379, in- 
cluding about 150 -isme, -iste and -iser words and about 
50 names of parties taken from proper names. Let us 
look now at the idea of authority of the people and see 
what new words and what shifts of meaning it caused. 
Under its influence there will probably be changes more 
definite than those caused by the other two ideas because 
it is itseK a more definite idea. The idea of equality 
caused the language to develop by the amplification of 
terms such as elire, aristocrate, federal, fraternite. It 
gives us large and elaborate word families. The idea of 
liberty, while developing such families as those of revolu- 
tion, constitution, scores largely by means of prefix forma- 
tions (anti-), sufiix formations {-iste), and variations on 
proper names as names of parties. 

The idea of authority of the people, however, is a 
different sort of idea from either of these others. Yester- 
day, it says, the nobles held such and such powers, the 
king had certain prerogatives; to-day the people have 



them. To indicate and emphasize this shift their names 
must be altered. They must no longer be spoken of in 
the way they were in the bad days now gone. To name 
them in the different way in which they will now be 
exercised, a new set of terms must be devised. Conse- 
quently, first, we shall find the governmental machinery 
largely renamed. In the second place, the people will 
be proud and pleased in their new authority. They will 
also hate the old authority and the remembrance of it. 
They will therefore want to strike from the vocabulary 
the terms that were used by royalty and will seek to 
substitute for them others of their own. So we have 
secondly many substitutes for such terms as royal, 
du roi, etc. And finally, the principle of the new au- 
thority will be named by the development of such families 
as those of democrate +, repuUique +, nation -{-. 

To reaHze the effect of this renaming of the machinery 
of government and this substitution of words expressing 
authority of the people for words expressing royal or 
ohgarchical power, to see how absolutely different is the 
tone, the spirit of the official language after '89 from 
what it was before that date, we have only to compare 
a document of the one period with a document of the 
other. For this purpose let us note the following selec- 
tions : 

I. L'an de grace mil sept cent quatre-vingt-six, du regne 
de Louis XIV roi de France et de Navarre, . . . sa majeste 
a declare que son intention ^tait de convoquer une assembles 
compos^e de diverses conditions des plus qualifies de son 
tJtat, pour leur communiquer les vues qu'elle se propose 
pour le soulagement de son Peuple, . . . sa majeste avait 
fait elle-meme une liste de ces personnes. . . . 

II. Louis, par la grace de Dieu, roi de France et de Navarre 
. . . depuis notre avenement au trone, nous avons toujours 
eu at coeur de maintenir chacun de nos sujets dans tous les 


droits auxquels Us peuvent pretendre. Le d^sir dont nous 
sommes animus pour le bonheur de nos peuples, nous ayant 
fait convoquer une Assemblee composee des plus notables 
personnages de notre royaume, dont la fidelity, Tattachement 
a notre personne, et le zele pour la gloire et la splendeur de 
notre Mat, nous sont connus . . . ils ont satisfait a notre 
volonte, et pris la place que nous leur avons express^ment 
choisie, et que nous avons commande k nos officiers de 
ceremonies ... la bonne volonte que nous avons toujours 
eue pour les pr^lats et noblesse de notre royaume, et autres 
nos sujets . . . cette seance proche de notre personne . . . 
des honneurs et prerogatives qui leur sont attribues et que nous 
entendons et voulons leur ^tre conserves . . . car tel est 
notre plaisir. 

III. Sire: Les paires de votre royaume, jaloux de donner 
a vos Peuples I'exemple de V obeissance qui vous est due, n'ont 
pas balance a se conformer a vos desirs . . . mais en execu- 
tant la volonte de votre majeste, qu'ils ont regard^e comme un 
ordre, et qui ne pent avoir d'autre caractere. . . . Les 
paires supplient votre Majeste de consid^rer. . . . Daignez 
observer, Sire. . . . Que votre Majesty daigne rendre . . . 
sujets fidelles, magistrats prevoyans, ce n'est pas sans regret 
que nous traitons ouvertement des questions si delicates. 

This was the terminology of the old authority and 
of the old submissiveness. Now, in the example below, 
let us see that of the new authority: 

IV. Les Representans du peuple frangais, constitues en 
assemblee nationale, considerant que I'ignorance, I'oubli 
ou le m^pris des droits de Vhomme sont les seules causes des 
malheurs publics et de la corruption des gouvernemens, ont 
resolu d'exposer les droits naturels, inali^nables et sacr^s de 
Vhomme, afin que cette declaration, constamment pr^sent^e 
a tons les membres du corps social, leur rappelle sans cesse 
leurs droits et leurs devoirs; afin que les actes du pouvoir 
legislatif et ceux du pouvoir executif, pouvant etre a chaque 
instant compares avec le but de toute institution politique, 
en soient respectes; afin que les reclamations des citoyenSj 


fondees d^sormais sur des principes simples et incontestahleSy 
tournent toujours au maintien de la constitution et au bonheur 
de tous. 

Les hommes naissent et demeurent lihres et egaux. . . . 
Le but de toute association politique est la conservation des 
droits naturels et imprescriptibles de Vhomme. . . . Le principe 
de toute souverainete reside dans la nation . . . qui assurent 
aux autres memhres de la societe la jouissance de ces memes 
droits. ... La Loi est Texpression de la volonte generate. . . . 
La Constitution garantit. . . . Le pouvoir judiciaire est 
delegue . . . par le peuple. ... II n'y a point en France 
d'autorite superieure a celle de la loi. 

What a contrast in spirit these two groups present! 
And how clearly the spirit of each is expressed in the 
terms that are used! The selections of the first group 
breathe absolute authority from every line.^ Aside 
from titles such as roi, majeste, sire, they are full of posses- 
sive pronouns and adjectives: vos peuples, vos desirs, nos 
sujets.^ The words vouloir, volonte, plaisir, desirs, obeis- 

1 I. Extrait du Proces- Verbal de L'Assemblee des Notables^ 
Man. I, 52. 

11. Declaration du Roi. Ibid., 60. 

III. Memoire presente au Roi par les Pairs du Royaume le 24 
nov. 1787. Ibid., 91. 

2 The foUowing editorial comment from the New York Times 
(1917) is interesting on this point. 

Democratic Ears are Grieved. As usual, the lavish use of "I" 
and "my," in what is called "the King's speech," last week, gave 
to American readers of that queer oration a little shock. We 
would so dislike a similar employment of pronouns by the head of 
our own Government — it is so nearly impossible to imagine even 
the greatest of our Presidents as speaking or writing of "my army" 
or "my navy," or of referring to "those aims for which I entered 
into the war," that we simply cannot understand the contented 
tolerance of such expressions in another great democracy where 
the control of all public affairs is in the hands of "the people" at 
least as much as it is here. 

Of course, we know that the phrases in question are mere survi- 


sance abound. Such verbs as supplier, daigner are 
common. The people are nos sujets, nos peuples or sujets 
fidelles. Expressions of humihty and deference and of 
lofty condescension are frequent. 

The second group,^ instead of beginning, ''Louis par 
la grace de Dieu, roi . . ." begins, ''Les Representans 
du peuple fran9ais, constitues en assemblee ..." Instead 
of speaking of volonte and desirs, it stresses les droits de 
rhomme, le honheur de tous, les droits naturels. Instead 
of sujets it speaks of citoyens, membres de la societe, la 
nation; instead of le roi, la hi. This difference in choice 
of terms is typical of the vast series of alterations by 
which the vocabulary was made suitable for the expres- 
sion of the new idea of the new authority.^ Let us in- 
vestigate in detail the means of this renovation which 
so completely remade the language. 

As we saw in the chapter on equality, all titles of 
nobility by which the authority of the old regime was 
indicated were swept away by law. Since '89, and even 

vals, and not to be interpreted literally, but it is by only considering 
them meaningless that they cease to offend us. And then they 
become amusing without becoming pleasant! 

It would be a little better — perhaps all right — if the King were 
to employ the royal "we" in rehearsing the acts and expressing the 
purposes of his Ministers. But the first person plural as a sub- 
stitute for the first person singular seems in these days to have 
been abandoned by Kings and left to that notoriously modest class, 
the editors. It serves them sometimes well and sometimes ill, 
according to the skill with which it is employed. 

3 IV. Declaration des Droits de 1' Homme et du Citoyen, from 
La Grande encyclopedie. 

^ Mercier, in 1801, in his Neologie (p. Ixiii), pointed out the 
difference between the old language and the new: ". . . je pourrai 
bientot reproduire sous ses yeux et reporter a son oreille les mdles 
expressions de la langue republicaine, qui me fut familiere pendant 
quatre ou cinq annees. II y a la de quoi faire palir k jamais la 
langue monarchique." 


to the present day, so completely was the old authority 
extinguished, titles like le due de . . ., le comte de . . . 
and even the once mighty sa majeste, son altesse royale, 
have all lost their authority, have become empty and 
void, and serve as valuable counters in no circle except 
possibly that of ''society." During the Revolution this 
great and complicated mass of terms was replaced by 
the one word — citoyen. Since then it has come to be 
replaced also by the words monsieur, madame, made- 
moiselle. That is how titles were changed to indicate 
the transferred authority. 

Then there was the case of proper names. If the 
church, as the makers of the republican calendar as- 
serted, had used the names of the saints' days and feasts 
to inculcate ecclesiastical ideas in the minds of the masses, 
the monarchy had not been behind it in impressing the 
idea of royal sovereignty on the people by means of the 
names of towns, streets, pubUc squares, and buildings. 
There were not many such whose names did not blazon 
forth the fact that they had been built by and were 
intended for the use of the king, and that if the people 
enjoyed them at all it was by his bounty and sufferance 
that they did so. In such names the words Louis, Charles, 
Bourbon, royal, du roi abounded. All these were care- 
fully removed by the Revolution. The substitutes were 
various and in many cases clever. We have seen how 
the Palais Royal became La Maison Egalite. Similarly 
le jardin du palais royal became le jardin de la Revolution. 
The town Sarrelouis became Sarrelihre; Ville-Bourhon 
became Vallon-Lihre, both thus flatly contradicting the 
previous name. Roi was often replaced by a rhyming 
word so that the general outline of the name remained 
the same: Villeroy became Ville-Loi, Neuvy-le-Roy be- 
came Neuvy-la-Loi. Charleroi became Charlihre, while 
Boucien-le-Roy was replaced by Boucien-le-Doux. 


Nor were words that bore testimony to the authority 
of the church left alone. Saint was in all cases swept 
away, often replaced by sans, Bourg St. Christophe becom- 
ing Bourg-sans-Fontaine. The word saint was not even 
replaced when Saint-Denis became Franciade. St. Jac- 
ques was abruptly contradicted by Jacques Repuhlicain. 
Even names that contained no actual word or syllable 
that belonged to the old regime were purified as if they 
had acquired a taint by association. The people never 
wanted to hear of the Louvre or the Tuileries again. 
These names had become odious. Let them be changed 
to Palais National. Let the Champ de Mars become 
Champ de Federation. Hdtel de ville, which would seem 
to contain nothing in itself offensive, was nevertheless 
altered to hotel commun, de la Commune or even to maison 
commune. Other names that were not in any way hateful 
were suppressed merely in order to make room for the 
mass of names that the patriots wished to see used. 
Rabelais, Guillaume Tell, Marat, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 
were all popular. Some towns merely added a new 
name to their old one, like Ferney and Versoix, which 
became Ferney- Voltaire and Versoix-la-Raison. The 
great mass of these changes were only temporary and 
soon disappeared. But thus it was, for the time being 
at least, that proper names were suited to express the 
new authority.^ 

^ This desire for the alteration of proper naraes has shown itself 
recently. One of the first acts of the Russians in the European 
War was to remove the Teutonic taint from the name of their 
capital city. It is surprising to see with what suddenness the new 
name Petrograd has come to universal prevalence outside of Ger- 
many. One would have been tempted to say that such complete 
and immediate success was not to be hoped for. Serbia has taken 
advantage of its unusual pubHcity to spread the speUing with a 
"b" instead of the former Servia. This change, Uke that of Petro- 
grad, has met with surprisingly general acceptance. The Germans 


Then in the next place there was the discarding of the 
whole mass of qualifying and descriptive adjectives such 
as royal which gave to many terms and titles a monar- 
chical character. Under the old regime we find very 
many titles Uke the following: procureur du roi, con- 
seiller du roi, secretaire des commandements du roi, 
secretaire d'Etat, avocat du roi, gens du roi, capitaine au 
corps royal du genie, procureur general de Sa Majeste, 
lieutenant general des armees du roi, grand aumonier de 
la reine, gentilhomme d'honneur, premier gentilhomme de 
la chambre de Monsieur, capitaine des vaisseaux du roi, 
chevaUer des ordres du roi, grand maitre de la garde- 
robe du roi, premier ecuyer de Monsieur (de la reine), 
juge royal, censeur royal, preyot-royal, domaine de la 
couronne. After the Revolution not one qualification 
of this sort is left. The language has been purified of 
all such. They emphasized the derivation of power 
from the king. Power is now derived from the people. 
That fact is made clear by the new titles and names of 
positions and offices which replaced those we have just 
mentioned. The substitutes for royal, du roi, etc., in 
titles and common phrases were various and numerous. 
We will mention some that had a considerable popularity 
in the new government terminology. 

have long been inclined to Teutonize their language by discarding 
the foreign words, and this movement seems to be receiving stimula- 
tion from the war. The British have shown less concern in this 
matter. Moves to alter the name of Wiesbaden Road, Berlin Road 
and Hanover Square have not aroused much interest. Neither 
have the French carried the matter very far. There did appear, 
however, an article in a Paris paper requesting the horticulturists 
to "debocher les roses," which went by such names as Kaiserin 
Augusta Victoria. But aside from this Uttle has been done. In the 
United States many German names have been changed, and it is 
even reported that the soldiers at Camp Dix refuse to have German 
measles, so that the Sanitary Department has renamed the malady 
"Liberty Measles." 


administratif: assembl^e administrative, corps administra- 
tif, reglement administratif. 

civique, etc., carte civique, certificat civique, serment civique, 
tableau civique, inscription civique, liste civile. 

communal, etc., assemblee communale, Hotel-Commun (de 
la Commune), Maison Commune (names for the Hotel- 
de-Ville), conseil general de la commune. 

constitue, etc., emphasizing the derivation of the power; 
autorite constitute, assemblee constituante, pouvoir 
constituant, corps legislatif ou constituant, assembles 

constitutionnel, showing whereon the authority rests: acta 
constitutionnel, charte constitutionnelle, parti constitu- 
tionnel, loi constitutionnelle. 

conventionnel : assemblee conventionnelle. 

departementaire, -tal: administrations d^partementaires, 
societ^s departementaires, societ^s departementales, 
depenses departementales, budget d^partemental. 

directorial: pouvoir directorial, le Palais Directorial, arrets 
directorial, depute directorial. 

(d*)egalite: Palais d'Egalite, Maison Egalit^. 

electoral: assemblee ^lectorale, loi electorale, droit Electoral, 
reunion Electorale. 

executif: pouvoir executif, puissance executive, corps exE- 

federal: gouvernement federal. Champ de Federation 
(Champ de Mars). 

fran^ais: La R^publique Frangaise, la Revolution Frangaise. 

municipal: echarpe municipale, conseil municipal, agent 
municipal, reglement municipal, billet municipal, garde 
municipale, corps municipal, gouvernement municipal. 

officiel: une communication officielle, journal ofl&ciel, candi- 
dat officiel. 

national, de la nation, in combinations where royal would 
formerly have appeared: biens nationaux, domaines 
nationaux (substitutes for biens ecclesiastiques, biens 
domaniaux, domaine de la couronne), garde national (e), 
gendarme national, gendarmerie nationale, haute cour 


nationale, assemblee nationale, convention nationale, 
agent national, tr^sorerie nationale, Gazette nationale 
(ou Moniteur universel), cocarde nationale, patente 
nationale, accusateurs nationaux, (grands) procura- 
teurs de la nation, representants de la nation, Palais 
National (Louvre and Tuileries). 

du peuple, etc., the opposite of the former du roi: manda- 
taire du peuple, representant du peuple (frangais), 
appel au peuple, societe populaire. 

public: le bien public, le bonheur public, la chose publique, 
Tutilite publique, Fordre public; and in such combina- 
tions as fonctionnaire public it is reminiscent of titles 
like procureur du roi, juge royal. 

representatif: assemblee representative, le systeme repr^- 

de la Republique, republicain, etc.: ere republicaine, gou- 
vernement republicain. 

revolutionnaire, etc.: gouvernement r^volutionnaire, comite 
revolutionnaire, Jardin de la Revolution (formerly 
Jardin du Palais Royal). 

By these words and other such the transfer of au- 
thority was indicated. Its source was stated as du 
peuple and no longer du roi. It was national or constitu- 
tionnel or communal or public and no more royal. The 
manner of its derivation was no longer divin, it was now 
constitue, revolutionnaire, federal, electoral. The method 
of its exercise was no longer determined by le plaisir du 
roi; it was representatif, conventionnel, executif. Formerly 
there had been little need for the people to refer to these 
powers; the aristocracy had taken complete charge of 
them. Now the new popular interest in these functions, 
born of the suddenly assumed control of them, finds 
expression in this highly varied and detailed nomenclature. 

And in the first mad days there was a title even mightier 
than any of these, or than any that kings had previously 
employed — de la guillotine. " Les Furies de la Guillotine " 


chose in that title what was to them a more potent appela- 
tion than ever the quahfication du red had been, more 
potent even than the phrase du peuple now was. But 
this was a transitory bit of terrible fantasy. The other 
terms, however, have in general been permanent in the 
republican government nomenclature. 

As in the case of certain proper names like Tuileries 
and Louvre, many common nouns, though they had in 
them no actual syllables that spoke of royalty, had 
nevertheless been so often on the Hps of the oppressor 
as to have acquired a suggestion as hateful as though 
they spoke definitely of tyranny and aristocracy with 
every letter and by every principle of derivation. So 
they were suppressed. The very general substitution of 
the word loi for the word justice is an instance of this.® 
The word justice would seem in itself capable of becoming 
as potent a watchword of the new era as was egalite or 
liberte. The principle it named had in the past been no 
more silent than the principle of egalite or liberte, and, 
by the hope of the new movement, should in the future 
be no less awake. What was so unsatisfactory about the 
one word more than about the others as to cause not only 
its failure to be adopted in any motto, but even its 
suppression? Perhaps this: whereas the words egalite, 
liberte had been merely unheard in the old regime, the 
word justice had been heard frequently, but as a satirical 
mockery. What did such phrases as 'gouverner avec 
justice,' 'les gens de justice,' ^rendre justice,' 'demander 
justice,' ^ mean to the people except the very opposite of 
what the word said? What except oppression, unjust 
imprisonment and tyranny? So, to use the word in 
the new government nomenclature seemed, perhaps all 
unconsciously, unfitting. It was tacitly dropped. Such 
6 R. 127. ' Feraud. 


phrases as 'rendre justice/ 'homme de justice/ were no 
more heard. Instead, where the poets of the generation 
before had spoken of 'le glaive de la justice/ the orators 
of the Revolution now referred to 'le glaive de la loi/ 
''Sa formidable puissance les atteint et les fait tomber 
sous le glaive de la loi." ^ ''Ceux qui ont ^chappe au 
fer de nos braves, tombent chaque jour sous la hache 
des lois." ^ This is what happened sometimes under 
the influence of a distasteful suggestion that was felt in 
a word. 

At other times there was a totally different course 
pursued. Some terms, equally distasteful as they might 
appear, were not thus discarded but were quite on the 
contrary appropriated by the people. ^^ Likely as such 
words might seem to be hateful, plainly as they might 
appear to speak of the old authority, it is nevertheless 
the popular caprice to put them to new democratic uses 
and by very contrast to set over against each other the 
old authority and the new. If the word justice was 
discarded, Use -f, conseil +, proclamation, arrU, Monsieur 
(at least except at first), souverainete, all of which surely 
had about them as definite, perhaps more definite, sugges- 
tion of the authority which was now abolished, — these 
words were not discarded. These words it pleased the 
people to retain, to use. Perhaps they felt a potent 
symbolism in the very democratization of such terms. 

The transfer was sometimes startling. Voltaire, speak- 
ing of England, says: '^11 n'y a pas longtemps que 
M. Shipping, dans la chambre des communes, commenga 
son discours, par ces mots: 'La majeste du peuple anglais 
serait blessee . . .' La singularite de Texpression causa 
un grand eclat de rire; mais sans se deconcerter, il r^peta. 

8 Aulard Soc. VI, 103. CoUot d'Herbois, 28 avril, '94. R. 127. 

9 Aulard Soc. V, 465. Lettre de Lyon, 13 oct. '93. R. 
^° See Chapters on "Equality" and "Liberty." 


les memes paroles d'un air ferme, et on ne rit plus." 
And so it is now. Before '89, what would have been in 
France the reception of the phrase 'majeste du peuple'? 
Who thought of the word majeste except in combination 
with such a word as Louis or roi f Yet now in this phrase 
these words are being replaced by the word peuple, and 
the surprise at such a glaring mesalliance is passing. 

In many cases old words already existing but not very 
much used were largely developed in order to supply 
the new vocabulary with the needed terms. The princi- 
ple of the new authority was found already expressed 
in the words democratie, republique, nation. These all 
developed prolifically. 

The word democratie was an old word. Its group as 
given in Feraud includes, besides itself, democratique, 
democratiquement. Its meaning as he gives it is: ^'un 
gouvernement populaire." But how remote it is from 
the post-'89 meaning is indicated very significantly 
by the example Feraud gives: ''La democratie est sujette 
a de grands inconveniens ! " This is scarcely such an 
example as would be selected after '89. But it was 
natural at a period when the models, as mentioned by 
Feraud, were merely ancient Athens and Switzerland. 
The word had as yet no very real idea behind it. It was 
still 'une democratie' or 'la democratie' with a small 
'd,' a general term, the mere name of a form of govern- 
ment. But the new authority seized upon it, capitalized 
the D, and invested it with the highly specialized signifi- 
cance that we see in the definition of the dictionary of 
the Academy '98, Suppl. : "attachement a la Revolution, 
a la cause populaire." 

Aside from the three words already mentioned as 
forming the group of democratie +, there had been at 
one time a fourth — dem^pcratiser . It is mentioned by 


Littre as occuring as an intransitive verb in the fourteenth 
century. But it was apparently Httle used. The idea 
it named was rare, the hope of it grew rarer. The word 
fell absolutely into disuse and disappeared long before 
the Revolutionary period according to the testimony of 
all the dictionaries. Now, however, there is need for 
all such words. The demand is insatiable. They are 
sought far and near and if found are welcomed into use. 
If they cannot be found in sufficient quantities they are 
created. Whether the word democratiser was searched 
out and resuscitated, or whether it was a new creation, 
which its makers had no idea was a duplicate, matters 
little. It became very common because it filled a need. 
Its strength grew. It became used transitively. Now 
we hear: ''democratiser le pape et les cardinaux." ^^ 
The group is increased by the growth of three more 
words, and now stands: democratie (old, but acquired 
much greater force of meaning), democratique (old), 
democratiquement (old), democratiser (existed in the 
fourteenth century, but really a new creation), democrate 
(new, probably imitative of aristocrate) , democratisme 
(new), democrato-despote (cited by the Neol. fr. as used 
by a member of the English parliament to characterize 
the regenerate Frenchmen ; but hardly of wide currency) .^^ 

Another variation of the same idea is found in the 
family repuhlique +. Democracy refers to the power 
as lodged in the hands of the people collectively. A 
republic is a form of government in which the power 
rests in the hands of representatives elected by the people. 
The latter was the form of government necessitated by 
circumstances in 1789. So the word repuhlique under- 
went a much larger development than did democratie. 
Its family came to consist of thirteen words. It was 
definitely selected as the specific official name of the 

" A. Cloots, Mon. XII. 447. 12 r. 131. 


new government, while 'la democratie^ remained the 
abstract and general name of a principle. Before '89, 
according to Feraud, only two words of this family were 
in use: repuhlique and repuhlicain (n. and adj.). Need- 
less to say there was about them nothing of the vividness 
of meaning that they had after '89. Note Feraud's 
examples; they are significant: ''La Republique Romaine, 
d'Athenes, de Venise, de Genes, de Hollande. Tout 
prince veut ^tre absolu, et toute repubhque est ingrate 
(Voltaire)." There was, indeed before '89, some dis- 
agreement as to the correct use of the word. Bossuet 
employed it in the plural and is criticized for it by Feraud. 
The example is: ''Moise fonde leurs lois et toutes leurs 
republiques sur les merveilles." Feraud also takes to 
task the Academy for allowing the word sometimes to 
mean 'toute sorte d'etat, de gouvernement.' He objects: 
"II me parait vieux dans cette acception; et il me sem- 
ble qu'on dit aujourd'hui Etat, Gouvernement." From 
this condition of more or less indefinite obscurity the 
word is seized and elevated suddenly to the most honored 
place at the disposal of the new government, its very 
title. La Republique Fran^aise. 

The other original member of the family, repuhlicain 
(n. and adj.), was also unobtrusive in the days before 
'89. Feraud defines it simply: "(adj.) qui appartient a 
la Republique; (n.) passionne pour la Republique"; 
and gives one or two examples of no great significance. 
But once the family is selected by the popular choice 
there is no end to the variations that are produced by 
means of all the usual prefixes and suffixes: republic 
c{an)isme,^^ irrepuhlicanisme, repuhlicaniste, irrepuhlicain, 

" It is true that one example of this word for 1750 is given in 
the Die. gen., but it is not in F^r. nor Acad. 76, and apparently 
was in no sense in existence before the Revolution began to use it. 
Compare other similar cases in Chapter VII. 


repuhlicaniser , repuhlicainement, republicomane, repuhli- 
comanie, antirepuhlicain. Curious compounds and puns 
are not lacking as in other popular word families, and 
we have repuhlico-chouans (as a name for the republican 
troops) and the facetious repuhlicoquin}^ 

Consider also what alteration there was in the ideas 
suggested by the word nation. Feraud gives as the 
family of this word, nation, national{e), adj. He discusses 
the noun national, -aux, to which he says some objection 
has been made. He admits it in the plural but says 
that the singular is not used. He gives as an example: 
'^Elle rappelle Jean de Hainault, et quelque cavalerie, 
dont la discipline et les armes etoient pr^ferables a celles 
des Nationaux." (L'Ab. Grosier. Hist. d'Angl.) Although 
the phrase *'La Nation Frangaise" is one of Feraud's 
examples, still we know how little this meant as com- 
pared with the signification with which it was invested 
after 1789. The growth of the family shows its new 
life. The new words nationaliser, nationalisation, and 
the vigorous nation{pm)icide express the new feeling. 
And nationalement trails along to round out the hst. 
Aside from these four new words and the added meaning 
that nation itself took on and the definite acceptation 
of national as a noun both in the singular and plural 
{Neol. Jr.), many new combinations and phrases were 
formed by the aid of this family. In fact it is one of the 
most used for this purpose. We may mention: con- 
vention nationale, assemblee nationale, fete nationale, 
accusateurs nationaux, cocarde nationale, agent national. 
Mens nationaux, domaines nationaux, garde nationale, 
garde national, gendarmerie nationale, gendarme national, 
haute-cour-nationale, institut national des sciences et des 
arts, lese-nation, patente nationale, procurateurs de la 
nation, tresorerie nationale. In fact it is from this family 
" Compare "Robespierrot," "mirabellement," etc. 


that a large number of the substitutes for the monarchical 
quahfications royal, du roi, etc., were taken. These new- 
names mark emphatically and definitely the transfer of 
authority to the hands of the people. 

Then further, there were definite new governing bodies 
for which definite new names and descriptive words were 
needed. This new nomenclature was procured in three 
ways: by forming new combinations and phrases out of 
old words, by altering the meaning or use of old words^ 
and by creating new words. Examples of the first way 
are such combinations as: assemhlee administrative, com- 
munale, electorate, nationale, primaire, representante, re- 
presentative, de revision, departementale; corps legislatif, 
administratif ; convention nationale; societe departementaire, 
departementale, association departementale, la force departe- 
mentale; administration centrale, intermediaire, departe- 
mentale, municipale; conseil martial, des Cinq-Cents, des 
Anciens, municipal, de justice; bureau central, de paix ou 
de conciliation; haute-cour-nationale ; comite de surete 
generate, de salut public, revolutionnaire; tribunal correc- 
tionel, civil, criminel, de paix, de commerce, revolutionnaire. 
These were new names to designate new governing bodies. 
They were made sometimes of old words, such as conseil, 
sometimes of old words but with changed meanings, such 
as convention, sometimes of new words, such as adminis- 
tratif. But in any case, as we shall shortly see, they 
were quite different in spirit from any names that the 
former government had used. 

Also, to name these new governing bodies or divisions 
words were frequently altered in use or in meaning. 
Examples of this sort of adaptation are the words de- 
partement, convention and comite. The changes by which 
these words were adapted to express the new ideas of 
government are typical of what was done in the case of 


many others. Departement, as defined by Feraud, meant 
(1) 'distribution/ either of troops, or of the duties of 
government, as in the phrases ''le departement de la 
guerre, d'un tel secretaire d'fitat"; (2) "il se dit de lieux 
d^partis et distribues: le departement de Brest." But 
even this latter use is hardly the Revolutionary one. 
In the Moniteur, 1, 527, in a 'projet de decret' of Septem- 
ber 27, 1789, we find definitely stated the new use of the 
term: ''La France serait partagee pour les elections en 
80 grandes parties qui porteraient le nom de departe- 
mentsJ^ This is no very startling change, but it shows 
the adaptation of an old word to a new use by specializa- 
tion of its meaning. 

In the word convention there was a greater alteration. 
This word, as defined by Feraud, meant "acord, pacte 
que deux ou plusieurs persones font ensemble." Now 
it comes to mean an assembly, as in the name Convention 
Nationale. This is a considerable extension. 

Comite is a word which, from a condition where it was 
Httle used except in "le style badin," came into very 
general popularity. Feraud says of it : " Terme emprunte 
des Anglais. Bureau compose de plusieurs membres de 
Tune ou Fautre chambre, commis pour examiner une 
affaire. On ne le dit dans le serieux que des Anglais. 
En France on dit bureau. Dans le style badin on le dit 
de toute assemblee. Les comediens apelent leurs as- 
semblees, comite J' But now it comes to be heard fre- 
quently, especially in such combinations as comite de 
surete, de salut. 

Then, finally, to name the new governing bodies and 
characterize them adequately, some entirely new words 
were created, generally in already existing families. 
Such are: legislature,^^ administratif, administrativement, 

^5 We see what was the status of the word legislature in 1789 
(18 Aug.) from a remark of Mirabeau's (I, 215. R.): "Nous avons 


administre (subs, 'les besoins des administres'), departe- 
mentaire, departemental, departementalement, municipaliser^ 
munidpalisationj offidel, non-officiel. 

What were the names of the old regime for such ideas? 
Let us make a general comparison of the nomenclature 
of each government, the monarchy and the republic. 
There is no question of definite substitution of one term 
for another, just as there is in general no definite replacing 
of old institutions by new ones. It was a completely 
new system that was put into operation after the Revolu- 
tion, and so also the terminology for it was largely a new 
one. Therefore we shall concern ourselves in this view 
with the general tone and choice of terms rather than 
with specific substitutions. And also, it is not any 
individual term that is significant by itself. There is 
nothing particularly more aristocratic than democratic 
about the phrase bureau des ministres in itself. What is 
significant is rather the cumulative effect of all the many 
slight differences between the old nomenclature and the 
new one. It is by the combination of these many de- 
tails, each in itself insignificant, that the general effect is 

By what words, then, had the monarchy named its 
governing bodies and powers? Shall we find a very 
different sort of terms from those we have just listed? 
From Voltaire's Steele de Louis XIV we shall obtain a 
good idea of the governmental vocabulary of the mon- 
archy. There we see on every page such expressions as 
the following: bureau des ministres, le conseil, le tribunal, 
la couronne, le parlement, une chambre extraordinaire, la 

dit que le traitement de Tarmee appartient a la legislature. Je ne 
sais si, dans ce moment oH la legislature n'est pas encore nee, on 
comprend bien ce mot; mais il n'y en a pas d'autre parmi nous, 
pour rendre la meme idee." 


cour, sa cour, les Etats generaux, cour pleniere, d^elever sa 
maison, laisser en souverainete, dans la monarchic, Vempirc 
d'un premier ministre, le gouverncmcnt du royaume, les 
cours de justice, parlements du royaume, dans la grand'- 
chambre, la chambre des comptes, la cour des aides, sa 
couronne de prince, autour de sa personne, la royaute. It 
was in these terms that the monarchy spoke of the ad- 
ministrative bodies and powers of the government. We 
see that this group is very different in tone and general 
character from the terms we considered in' the group 
before. It is true that some words, such as conseil, 
tribunal, which were used by the old regime, were appro- 
priated to new uses by the new government. But the 
most of these words, at least in their former uses, were 
discarded. The country is no longer la monarchie or le 
royaume, but la republique, and the parlements and cham- 
bres and cours, at least in the old sense, must be renamed. 
So much for the changes in the names of the governing 

In the second place, the various functions of these 
bodies needed new names. We find in the republican 
nomenclature, for this purpose the following new com- 
binations: aborder une question, poser une question, man^ 
dot d^amener, mandat d'arret, mandat imperatif, mandat 
territorial; the following words used in new ways: 
ajourner, reajourner, amendement, assignat, desemparer, 
rapport, decreter, initiative, proclamation, decret, motion; 
and the following new words: inajournable, sous-amen- 
dement, redecreter, requisitionner , requisitionnaire, requi- 
sitionneur, municipalisation, municipaliser , legislation, 
permis, degrevement (practically new). 

Let us compare with these the names of governmental 
functions used by the old regime. In Voltaire we find 
such things spoken of in the following terms : edit solennel, 


arret du parlement, la noblesse s^assemhla, gouverner Vetat, 
agir en souverain, une declaration puhlique or du roi, pour 
supplier le roi, digne de regner, la fit enregistrer au parte- 
ment, les excommunications de Rome, je lui ordonne, les 
ordres d'un roi, de vous servir, soyez le maitre, consulter 
votre conseil. Again we see an altogether different set of 
terms, with a considerable difference in tone. 

In the third place, there are needed fresh terms for 
the new prerogatives, powers of approval, regulation, 
sanction, etc., recently acquired by the people. In the 
new government these are referred to by such new words 
as the following: decretahle, delegable, improposable, 
inacceptable, indelegable, non-acceptation, non-prorogation, 
non-sanction, sanctionnable, sanctionnement, sanctionneur, 
redeputer, revocabilite, vetoter, ineligibilite, non-eligibilite, 
non-reelection, (non-)reeligibilite, reelection, reeligible, ree- 
lire, maximer. These words were all new. Others were 
changed in meaning or used to fit the new needs. For 
example: mandat, deputer, commettant, majorite, minorite, 
sanctionner. And then new phrases were formed, as, for 
instance: appel au peuple, veto suspensif or absolu, ques- 
tion prealable, ordre du jour, pluralite absolue, pluralite 
relative, pluralite simple, pluralite des voix. 

In the old regime prerogatives and powers of sanction 
and approval were spoken of by the following terms: 
le trdne, pouvoir absolu, la puissance royale, les droits de la 
couronne, la fonction divine, la seule volonte des rois, la 
preeminence du roi, les droits que vous donne votre nais- 
sance, la clemence du roi, les ordres d'un roi, resister a ses 
volontes, mon choix, cette autorite supreme, Vautorite souve- 
raine, la puissance de son ministre, le droit que donne la 
couronne aux rois, Vhonneur du trdne, pour regner, s'opposa 
aux edits, la gloire du roi, la preseance que merite Vantiquite 
de leur race, la superiority d'une couronne hereditaire, cette 


preeminence, sa grandeur, Dieu qui vous a fait roi. Such 
are the terms that fill the pages of any work dealing with 
the subject of the powers of government written under 
the monarchy. 

In the fourth place, there are numerous new officials 
and new positions for which new titles and qualifications 
must be found. For this purpose many old words are 
revived or adapted. Such are: legislateur, attache, asses- 
seur, consul, directeur, directoire, electeur, administrateur, 
gouvernant, gouverneur, mandataire, depute, notables, avoue, 
maire, procureur, secretaire, jure, decretiste. Many new 
combinations are made out of words already existing, as 
for example: agent municipal, accusateurs nationaux or 
publics, charge d'affaires, juge de paix, mandataire du 
peuple, procurateurs de la nation. Such expressions as 
the following gain currency: representants du peuple, 
fonctionnaires publics. There are also, when the above 
mentioned means of supplying the need are inadequate, 
many new words devised. Old families are extended 
by such additions as: presidentiel, fonctionnaire, com- 
missaire, vice-secretaire, diplomate, mandant, officiel, offi- 
cieux, offlciellement, non-officiel, inofficiellement, decreteur, 
percepteur (des impots), represents (n.), representant (n.), 
colegislateur, signataire, sous-president, suppleant, juri, 
jury. By such means the people name the functionaries 
now under their control. 

What terms do we find used by the old regime for this 
purpose, terms which these new ones have replaced? 
Titles like the following fill the pages of Le Siecle de 
Louis XIV: ministre, prince, les paires, les seigneurs, 
leurs vassaux, dauphin, conseiller d'etat or du roi, chan- 
celier. Sire, le souverain, le roi son mattre, secretaire d'etat, 
un mattre et des sujets, son gouvernement, gouverne par son 
souverain, I'elite de la noblesse de France, Vheritier pre- 


somptif du royaume, les nobles, les ecclesiastiques, les 
peuples, ce monarque, la regence, lieutenant general du 
royaume, maitres de Vetat, la famille royale, tant de per- 
sonnes royales, un gentilhomme, le maitre de Vetat or de son 
royaume. These are the titles of those in whose hands 
were the powers of government before 1789. What a 
vast difference there is between the two groups of terms 
given above! 

And finally, the new pohtical division of the country 
demanded a new nomenclature. The following words 
were transferred for this purpose to new uses: departe- 
m^ent, canton, district, commune, munidpe (before applied 
only to the Roman Empire), municipal, regime, section. 
The following were new: departementaire, departemental, 
departementalement, municipalite, municipaliser , munici- 
palisation. The creation of the word assolement (division 
of fields) may be considered to mark the passing of real 
estate from the hands of the nobles to be divided for 
the people. Such ideas as these were expressed under 
the monarchy by words Uke royaume, etat, province, 
monarchic, comtat. 

We see from a comparison of these two selections of 
terms that there has come a complete change in the 
whole vocabulary of government. It is perhaps hardly 
a series of definite alterations, though of course there 
were many such. What I wish rather to emphasize here 
is the record of a new attitude in the turn of phrases and 
the choice of words, in the tone and style. The whole 
color of the official language has become different. Terms 
like leurs sujets, la cour, son maitre, the frequent posses- 
sives, and all the other terms from Voltaire now give 
place to totally different ones. Les droits de la nation, 
Vegalite et la tolerance, la voix de la justice, la volonte na- 


tionale, Vamour pour la constitution, oheir a la l&i, foyer du 
patriotisme, surveiller V administration, les delegues du 
peuple, la volonte generate, — such are the expressions that 
abound in the documents of Aulard. There is no more 
talk about pouvoir ahsolu, la puissance royale, la fonction 
divine, but there is much said of le peuple, la nation, les 
droits naturels, le honheur de tous. Thus in its very spirit 
and fundamental elements the language has been altered 
to express properly the ideas that come with a different 
sort of authority lodged in different hands. 

This authority, so suddenly, so completely in the 
hands of those unaccustomed to it, was at first shamefully 
abused. The record of the guillotine shows this and 
indicates how, within the space of barely a year, was 
concentrated the retahation for oppressions covering a 
century. The language indicates it, too, by the profusion 
of words to express death and execution that sprang up 
at this time. The fascination of the idea caused the 
words to be played with and varied, sometimes with 
gruesome facetiousness. The one word guillotine pro- 
duced the following crop: le guillotine (the victim), 
guillotiner, guillotinahle {Diet. neoL, article "Boussac": 
*'C'est celui qui appelait les malheureuses victimes de- 
noncees sans preuves des individus guillotinables ") , 
guillotinade, guillotinaire {"un rapport guillotinaire, c'est- 
a-dire, tendant a procurer des victimes a la guillotine,", guillotinement, guillotineur. 

But this family of eight, like the method of execution 
itself, was not enough for the fanatical spirit of the time. 
The method of hanging the aristocrats by means of the 
ropes of the street lanterns was hit upon by chance. 
Immediately the harmless word lanterne acquires a most 
sinister character. ''A la lanterne!" became a threat to 
shrink from. "Mettre a la lanterne," becomes a phrase 


now as significant as it was senseless a week before. 
Popular fancy carries the idea further with absurd logic. 
This family, Uke that of guillotine, mtist be made com- 
plete in all its variations. A verb is made modeled on 
guillotiner, lanterner,^^ with an alternative form Ian- 
terniser, also a noun lanternisation. The idea is even 
carried into the realm of the pun by the variant lampader. 
Also, there is the method of execution by drowning, 
for which was created a terminology fully as elaborate 
as those of guillotine and lanterne, and more fantastic. 
These terrible events at Nantes were noyades or haignades 
or immersions; or they were referred to fancifully by the 
terrible noyadeur, Carrier, by the expressions hoire a la 
grande tasse, navigation patriotique, manage republicain 
or civique, the latter terms derived from the chaining 
together of two persons. A verb, noyader, more vigorous 
than noyer, was made, and the boats used were named 
foucadieres from the inventor of the type, Foucault. 

Other methods of execution gave the terms sabrade, 
fusillade, fusilladeur, mitraillade, mitraillement, mitrailler, 
mitrailleur (name of Collot d'Herbois, ''ce h^ros mi- 
trailleur." Neol. fr.). The names of fatal months were 
made memorable by the coining of such words as prai- 
rialiser (to shoot as in the uprising of V^ prairial, III), 
septembriser (from the massacre in the prisons of Paris, 
Sept. 2, 3, 1792), septemhrisade, septembriseur, septem- 

^® There is a curious coincidence in the case of this word. F^raud 
gives a verb lanterner, but in no such gruesome sense. "Etre irre- 
solu, perdre le terns en des ch6ses de rien. II ne fait que lanterner, 
et n'avance rien. Fatiguer par des discours impertinens. Je ne 
sais ce qu'il me vient lanterner tons les jours." Needless to say, 
there is no semantic connection with the revolutionary meaning. 

1' Vendemiariser and vendemiariste were also created, but with 
less grim signification, referring to an uprising rather than to a 


As in the case of the words noyade and lanterne, the 
word guillotine had its set of facetious terms. It was 
le fauteuil revolutionnaire, or la faulx de Vegalite. The 
cart in which the condemned were carried was la Mere 
roulante or la hiere des vivants, and the gruesome fancy 
of the time took the word fournee as the name for a 
cartful of condemned. ^'La fournee d'aujourd'hui n'est 
que trente," is an expression from Mercier's Neologie. 

Thus a sketch, all too superficial, of the adaptation of 
the language to express adequately the changed authority. 
Though in one sense more definite than the changes caused 
by the ideas of equahty and liberty, these alterations are 
in another way more elusive by very reason of their 
commonplace character. It was soon so natural a thing 
to speak of ^Tassemblee" or ''la convention '^ that one 
easily forgot that but a short time before one spoke not 
of these but of '*sa majeste le roi." The very rapidity 
and extensiveness of the changes gave them soon all the 
greater appearance of permanence. And their appear- 
ance of permanence operated to induce one to forget that 
they had been changes at all. 

Yet the fact remains, and I hope we have given some 
suggestion of the evidence of its existence, that the whole 
official language was something completely different 
after 1789 from what it was before, simply because at 
that time the idea of democratic authority took posses- 
sion of the French mind. If we were to show without 
comment the various examples of the two stages of the 
language as we have set them forth above and if we 
were to ask what is the cause of such a difference in the 
tone of the two groups, should we not receive the reply 

massacre. Baboeuf illustrates the difference (Littr6, R. 108): 
"lis vont se faire prairialiser, tandis que pour sauver la patrie il 
ne faut que vendemiariser.^' 


that the cause is the transfer of authority from the hands 
of the king and nobihty to the hands of the people? It 
seems ahnost certain that we should, so clearly do the two 
sets of terms emphasize the two ideas. 

It was much the same process applied to the language 
as that which was applied to nearly all departments of 
life. As the statues of the kings were removed from the 
cathedrals and public places, their blasons from buildings 
and monuments, so their distinctive terms were removed 
from the vocabulary. 

And so we have classified the changes — by no means 
all of them but a large part of the more significant ones 
— that were wrought in the French vocabulary during 
the vivid years that followed the epoch of 1789. In 
grouping this vast and heterogeneous mass of words 
under the three headings of equahty, liberty, and demo- 
cratic authority we have attempted a task that in- 
volves perhaps a certain metaphysical indefiniteness. To 
classify thus into three groups some 800 words may 
appear at first thought a rather fantastic undertaking. 
And yet do we not feel, now that it is done, that the 
grouping has a real basis in fact? Indeed, do we not 
now, as we look backward, feel this more strongly than 
we did in the early stages of the study, when all was in 
nebulous confusion? The very immensity of this crea- 
tion of so few years has something fascinating about it. 
It obsesses one with a curiosity to discover what are 
the germinating forces that underlie this phenomenon 
and unify the whole product. For if one considers these 
words as a group, there is something about them that 
convinces one that this group is a unity. The com- 
parative naturalness with which the main boundaries 
arrange themselves, the comparative ease with which the 
more important words and famihes pigeonhole them- 


selves, strengthens one's conviction. There are of course 
many words that are refractory when it comes to classifica- 
tion. Some words have no significance for our purpose 
since, though they came into being by chance at this 
period, they are not really a part of the main growth. 
Such, for example, are aerostier and hivouaquer. The 
surprising thing, however, has been not the number of 
these words that defy classification but rather the number 
of those that seem to invite it. 

The more we study the groupings, the more we are 
convinced, I think, that during the epoch which we have 
been considering the whole French national mind was 
dominated by the three ideas of equality, liberty, and 
democratic authority; and that it was, partly uncon- 
sciously but partly also very consciously, engaged in the 
herculean task of hurriedly adapting the language to 
the expression of these ideas. We are consequently con- 
vinced that we have here in very fact a marvelously 
extensive and elaborate contribution to the solution of 
our problem, which was so simple in the instances con- 
sidered in the earlier chapters — the problem of how a 
linguistic medium is adapted under the pressure of sud- 
den need to new uses in saying things which previously 
it was not fitted to say. ^ 

No one of the changes or creations that we l^ve been 
considering is very significant in itself. No ten of them 
would be. But the large array of them, each adding its 
testimony, acquires a more and more striking cumulative 
evidential value. The momentum of significance of 
these hundreds of details becomes finally compelling. 
The fact that the ideas which we have in these later 
chapters chosen as illustrations for our theory are im- 
mense ideas may compUcate the deductions of the study 
and necessitate our asking indulgence on the ground of 
the difficulty of handling so much material. But this is an 


advantage as well as a difficulty. It enriches our theme 
with a variety and completeness of illustration beyond 
which we could scarcely desire to go. In fact it would 
hardly be possible to wish for an opportunity to investi- 
gate a more exhaustive experiment in the adaptation of 
language to new ideas than that which was so elaborately 
performed in 1789. 


In concluding our studies let us review what we have 
seen to be the operation by which new terminologies 
are made in French. We read that "the Lord brought 
every beast of the field and every fowl of the air unto 
Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever 
Adam called every living creature that was the name 
thereof." We may ask who it is that wields this au- 
thority at the present time, and we shall find that in the 
last analysis it is the people who are sovereign in this 
matter. Although neologisms are generally due to 
personal causes, they have, as Darmesteter well points 
out (Vie des mots, p. 90), no chance of enduring except 
by responding to the thought and feeling of the crowd. 

"II doit y avoir accord entre Tetat psychologique de 
Tauteur et celui du peuple: autrement le neologisme ne vit 
pas; il nait, brille et s'eteint comme un meteor rapide, sans 
laisser de traces durables." ''Le suffrage universel n'a pas 
toujours existe en politique; il a existe de tout temps en 
matiere de langue: la le peuple est tout puissant et il est 
infaillible, parce que ses erreurs, tot ou tard, font loi" 
(p. 117). 

" Nothing can force a new term into any language against 
the inclination of a large majority of those who speak it. 
The field of language is strewn with the dry bones of 
adventurous words which once started out with the 
paternal blessing to make their fortune but have met 
with an. untimely end."^ Charles Sumner was unable to 

* Reference lost. 



impose the word annexion on a people that insisted on 
annexation. We have seen only recently the obstinacy 
with which the public has refused the (perhaps) more cor- 
rect pacificist, and has accepted pacifist. Also we have seen 
in the daily press frequent letters offering substitutes for 
'Sammies' as the name for our troops in France. But 
the Boston Herald prophesies, perhaps rashly at this 
early date: "It is plain that a better name than 
'Sammies' will not be summoned by public competi- 
tions" (Aug. 23, 1917). Again, the word philatelic as 
the name for stamp collecting "I'a definitivement emport^ 
en depit du verdict unanime de 1' Academic" (Dauzat, 
p. 61), which verdict was for the words timhrologie or tim- 
brophilie. It may be regarded as established by the 
examples we have discussed that prediction, thankless in 
any case, is particularly so in the matter of the choice of 
new words. This is very well shown in the case of the 
word philatelie just cited. When the Intermediaire de la 
timhrologie addressed a questionnaire on the subject of 
the word to members of the French Academy, the com- 
ments of those who said that the word philatelie "ne 
sera compris que des inities," and "est absolument 
incomprehensible pour le public" were completely belied 
by the final choice of the people. To take a different 
case, as we look back now we can see the error of any 
one who should have predicted in 1825 or 1830, as one 
might have done with apparently excellent reason, and 
as in fact Coste and Perdonnet did, that the rails of the 
new railroad system would be called ornieres. Or again, 
we now see how mistaken were those authors who, at 
the time the aeroplane was being named, pinned their 
faith upon such terms as aeronavire. 

On the other hand, with what hesitancy would any 
one acquainted with the difficulty of directing this capri- 
cious choice of the people have, augured success for the 


recent attempt to alter in English the much criticized 
word aeroplane. For does not every one know that 
objection to a word is no reason against its success but 
even rather the contrary? And yet, those who were 
bold enough to attempt to substitute the simpler airplane 
seem now, to judge from the usage of many newspapers 
and periodicals, to be gaining a most surprising degree of 
success.^ But let us beware of prophesying even to this 
degree. A few years may easily blight this word, now 
apparently so flourishing, for we have seen such a thing 
occur in many cases. 

What are the requirements that the users of language 
expect a new term to fulfill? Dauzat says (La Langue 
frangaise d'aujourd^hui, p. 51), "Pour nommer les objets 
on recourt plus volontiers a I'emprunt etranger, et, de 
pr^f^rence, a la formation savante." He gives as a reason 
for the latter fact that '4a derivation frangaise ne parait 
pas assez neuve." And we have in fact seen that novelty 
has been much sought in the terms we have studied. 
We recall that those who were charged with the making 
of the names for the metric system made a special point 
of getting words which should be different from any 
names of measures employed by ancient or modern 
peoples. The framers of the republican calendar likewise 
sought words that should be absolutely fresh creations. 

' I mean the word "surprising" literally, since it seems to me 
that one can so rarely count with any degree of certainty upon 
considerations of logical fitness prevailing to change a word that is 
once set in the language. Indeed, at times it almost seems that 
well-founded arguments against a word only cause the pubUc to 
cling closer to it with a certain perverse obstinacy. I am aware, 
however, that many will not agree with me in being surprised at 
the success of this excellent word airplane. The success of the 
change of St. Petersburg to Petrograd, I confess, also seemed to 
me when it was first proposed more desirable than Hkely. 


Automobile, aerostat, aeroplane, aviation, aeronaute, ama- 
teur are all words which had never been heard, before 
being selected for their new use. The word locomotif, 
•.although it existed before the railroads popularized it, 
was very much restricted in use. The dictionary of the 
Academy, edition of 1835, remarks: *'I1 n'est guere 
usit^ que dans cette expression — faculte locomotive." 
And hence the word must have seemed almost like new. 
In the word ballon, however, almost alone of those we 
have studied, there was but little novelty. Feraud's 
dictionary shows us that before it was adopted by the 
science of aeronautics it was applied to a ''vessie enflee 
d'air et couverte de cuir, dont on joue en la frappant de 
la main ou du pied." The change to the new meaning 
is thus seen to be very slight. Of the words introduced 
by the word makers of the Revolution a large number 
were new formations. It is true that a good many were 
also obtained by the adaptation of old words, but the 
need was so extensive that we could hardly expect even 
the most original of men to be equal to the task of supply- 
ing it with altogether new material. It is also not to be 
denied that the desire for novel terms has been, in the 
cases mentioned above, largely suppUed, as Dauzat says, 
by learned formation, inasmuch as all of the terms 
we have just mentioned, except ballon and some of the 
words of the Revolution vocabulary, are of this type of 

There is, however, in our examples not much borrowing 
from other modern languages. The railroads did obtain 
in . this way the words rails, tender, tunnel and wagon. 
While locomotive, train and station were probably sug- 
gested by English usage, they were really French words. 
But automobile is not borrowed, and the vocabulary of 
aviation is remarkably free from loan words from other 
modern languages. ^ The calendar and .metric terminal* 


ogies existed previously in no other language. And 
the additions of the Revolution contain, as we have 
seen, but a small percentage of words taken from English, 
and fewer yet from ItaHan and Spanish. The desire, 
then, for terms that shall be new seems on the whole to 
be a real factor of importance, satisfied generally by new 
creation from elements taken from Latin and Greek. 

The question may arise whether new terms must bear 
their meaning on their face. We may answer it in the 
negative. It is doubtful whether the word automobile 
would mean much etjnnologically to the ordinary person 
when he first saw it. Of course by the time the word 
aeroplane came into use people had been supplied with 
an apperceptive connection by years of familiarity with 
the word aerostat. But it is doubtful whether the latter 
word bore to the common mind any very evident significa- 
tion etymologically when it first appeared. The metric 
terms certainly were not heavily charged with meaning 
to the ordinary man, nor were the calendar words, in 
spite of the elaborate arguments put forth at the time 
to prove the contrary. In fact the incomprehensible 
character of both these sets of terms was often urged 
as a strong objection against them. The words of the 
Revolutionary vocabulary, however, more generally bore 
relation to other words already known and sprang from 
previously existing families. But on the whole it seems 
that a word may catch the popular fancy and come into 
great favor, even if it is unintelligible except to the trained 
etymologist. Indeed it sometimes appears that the 
more mysterious the word, the more the people delight 
in taking it up. 

In the next place, do words such as those we are study- 
ing need to be short and easily pronounced? It would 
seem not. The greater part of our examples have rather 
been cumbersome than short, and some, notably aeroplane 


and aerostat, have been considered anything but easy to 
enunciate. Automobile is not short, though susceptible, 
it is true, of abbreviation* 

It is also true that faultiness of formation from the 
point of view of the philologist seems rather an aid to a 
word's success than a disadvantage. The hybrid appears 
to have almost a better chance to succeed than the word 
of correct composition. Automobile, aeroplane and all 
the hilo- words have borne with the greatest unconcern 
whatever reproach is involved in the charge of mal- 

Neither does it seem to be necessary to success for 
this type of word to strike the popular fancy by any 
picturesqueness of figure. There was never any tempta- 
tion to name the locomotive in an imaginative way. 
The names of this type which were tried in selecting the 
name for the automobile and the aeroplane we have 
seen to have been early discarded. And while many of 
the words of the Revolutionary vocabulary were highly 
imaginative, it is just these that have not survived. Gen- 
erally, we may say, the words treated in this study have 
been of a matter-of-fact, utihtarian type. 

It has been said that "in the making of new words 
analogy plays a much larger part than any reference to 
general principles of formation or composition'* (Peter 
Giles in the Britannica, article ''Indo-European Lan- 
guages"). And yet we may search our examples and 
find very few instances where the principle has been 
active. No analogy influenced the formation of the 
words automobile, aerostat or avion. There were no 
precedents for the calendar names or the metric terms. 

In short, the people seem very easily satisfied when 
they are selecting names for newly arisen ideas. Or 
rather, it seems largely by pure caprice that they set the 
seal of their approval, now selecting words that would 


seem to have few qualities to recommend them, now 
refusing others that appear to satisfy all requirements. 
That a word is well born and well sponsored seems nothing 
in its favor in this lottery of choice. That a term is ill 
formed and full of defects to the purist's ear is not weighed 
against it by the speaking pubHc. In fact it would be 
practically impossible to formulate the conditions that 
a new word must fulfill in order to gain acceptance. 
Acceptance seems to depend upon the mood of the public 
at the moment when the choice has to be made. A word 
that is popular at one time would not necessarily be so 
if it were to present itself twenty years later, and the 
word selected to-day would not have been chosen a 
decade ago. And yet we must not think that it is in 
fact unreasoning caprice that determines these choices. 
It is probable that there are really definite causes under- 
lying them, only these causes are so subtle and the inter- 
play among them is so delicate that investigation is baffled. 
We have here a great complex which as yet defies 

What are the methods that we have seen used in obtain- 
ing the words in the eight linguistic emergencies we have 
investigated? First the need arises, suddenly enough to 
enable any one to realize that a word is being sought. 
At this point the word-forming consciousness of a large 
number of everyday people is quickened and made 
sensitive. Various terms spring up and come into the 
focus of attention. Some of these are borrowed with 
the new object or idea, if this comes from abroad. Such 
was the word rails. But in other cases, as in the early 
days of naming the aerostat, there is no disposition to 
borrow, although there may be opportunity. 

Sometimes words are adapted from other uses to the 
new employment. In such instances the word must not 


be too familiar under a different meaning, so that there 
would be confusion, nor must there be too great a leap 
for the mind between the old signification and the new. 
The alteration may be very marked, as it was in the 
words convention, constituer, majorite, but it will always 
be readily comprehensible. There may be contrast, often 
striking, between the new use and the old, as in the words 
niveler, chevalier. There may be a sudden and large 
broadening of appUcation, as in the case of the words 
citoyen, responsahilite, federation. There may be great 
deepening and strengthening of meaning, as in d-devantj 
aristocrate, royaliste. Or there may be but a sHght 
change of apphcation, as was the case with the word 

In the third place, a new term may be coined. There 
will be something striking about this new term, something 
more or less unusual, something decisive. It may appear 
unostentatiously in some newspaper column conducted 
by a brilUant editor, or in a book or pamphlet pubHshed 
by some amateur. It may emerge with all pomp from 
the official seance of a government committee. Or it 
may fall from the lips of an impassioned orator, or even 
spring up like a mushroom from no one knows where. 

After the words appear in one or another of these 
three ways, that is, by borrowing, adaptation, or new 
creation, there comes a sifting. Some may disappear as 
they were born, immediately and without notice, or after 
a brief, if at times promising, career. These are then 
soon forgotten by all, unless unearthed by some chance 
searcher in old newspapers or mummified in some 
dissertation. Ornieres is an appellative of this sort. In 
other cases a long and bitter struggle between rival as- 
pirants ensues. In these struggles, as we have seen, 
one term generally wins the place and the others pass out 
of use, as for example chariot before voiture and wagon^ 


and the recent pacificist before pacifist. Occasionally, 
however, the contest results in a draw and two contest- 
ants, as ballon and aerostat, voiture and wagon, continue 
to hold the field and share the victory. 

After the endurance of the term has been tested by 
varied usage, after its weaknesses have been sought 
out in the searching test of daily use in the newspapers 
and magazines, and in current speech; and after any 
imperfections have been worn away in this severe process 
the word may be considered ready to appear in the dic- 
tionary, and even without bearing the stigma of being 
marked ''Neol." During this arduous probationary 
period the word has had to outlast many rivals proposed 
in various letters to editors and in all sorts of editorial 
discussion. And if, long after it seems permanently 
estabUshed, it finds itself unexpectedly overthrown by 
some suddenly arising rival, as may be happeniug even 
now to the English word aeroplane, this is only the 
ordinary chance of words. 

The question of this final stage, this eventual reduc- 
tion of the new name to its really popular form, is a 
subject that Ues outside the field of the present studies, 
but it is one that may well offer material for a fascinat- 
ing investigation. For it must be noted that while one 
would undoubtedly say, if one were asked for an opinion, 
that the self -moving vehicle is named an ''automobile," 
yet in speaking of it the ordinary French person rarely 
calls it so, but rather uses the abbreviation ''auto," 
just as speakers of English usually employ the word 
" car "or " motor." Likewise, while Metropolitain, photo- 
graphic, kilogramme, hectogramme, aeroplane, taximetre, 
telegramme, are, so to speak, the officially recognized 
names for the things they designate, no one of them is 
really the name by which the people refer to them. In 
common speech the following substitutes for these words 


are almost universally used: metro, photo, kilo, hecto, 
aero, taxi, depeche. Thus we see that for a word to be 
accepted as the authoritative name for an object fre- 
quently means that it will soon be relegated to the limbo 
of ofiicial and dictionary usage, and be supplanted in 
common parlance by a more popular form, whether an 
abbreviation or a totally different designation. 

This method of selection of words involves, it is evi- 
dent, a large amount of wastage. For every word that 
is finally mobilized how many are the others that die off 
in the early stages of growth! If, in order to produce 
one perfect flower or one mature insect, nature sacrifices 
many hundreds of her offspring, she is no less prodigal 
in the growth of the vocabulary. In fact we have been 
concerned in large part with just these early word growths 
which have never matured. In general, it is true, there 
is some good reason for the abortion of these words. 
And we must admit that this is the natural procedure 
in the realm of language as well as in that of the flora 
and fauna. 

Our whole study has been, it is impossible to deny, 
taken up with that pariah of the conservative linguists, 
the neologism. And yet it is with no shame that we 
confess that we feel in no wise called upon to offer any 
justification for devoting so much space to such a subject. 
The time is passing, if indeed it has not already gone, 
when scholars overlook the fact that the neologism of 
to-day is the well-established word of to-morrow. No 
longer is it the fashion to withhold definite recognition for 
an unreasonably long time from these younger elements 
of the vocabulary. It is, in fact, becoming more and 
more the practice of philologists to devote attention to the 
contemporary activities of language. It would not now 
be possible to complain, as Darmesteter did so recently 
as 1877, in La Creation actuelle de mots nouveaux (p. 2) : 


"La langue moderne, la langue contemporaine semble 
absolument exclue du cercle des recherches linguistiques. 
Son mouvement nous echappe. Nous ne la sentons pas 
qui change sur nos levres. . . . Aussi la langue con- 
temporaine offre-t-elle au philologue un aussi riche sujet 
d'etude que celle des periodes passees." To one for 
whom the language of to-day holds a special fascination 
the neologism is one of the most natural of phenomena 
to study. This is so for two reasons. First because of 
the unexcelled opportunity one has for gathering all the 
subtle and ephemeral data that are so soon lost when 
one is separated from an era by even a few years. If 
one is to study the subject of the neologism he gains a 
great advantage by selecting that of his own period. A 
study of the neologism of the time of Charlemagne, for 
example, would of necessity be lacking in many of the 
most interesting data. And in the second place, the 
present age is a pecuharly rich field for this study. 
''Aucune epoque," says Dauzat {La Langue frangaise 
d^aujourd'hui, p. 49), n'a ete plus favorable que la notre 
k I'eclosion du neologisme." And so, if the philologist is 
fascinated by the study of the development that the 
language has undergone through the centuries of the 
past, he ought certainly to be no less interested when 
he sees the same changes taking place under his own 
eyes. In observing the growth of the new words of our 
own era we are indeed witnessing the minutest operations 
of the laboratory of language. 

In closing these studies without deducing from them 
any general principles or any broadly operative laws we 
are bold enough not to feel obUged to offer any apology 
for such an omission. We feel that a series of studies 
such as ours may well confine itself to presenting the 
facts and recording the details of the cases studied. 
Our aim has been to direct the reader's consideration 


to the question of just what it is that goes on when a 
new term or set of terms is suddenly demanded; to lay- 
before him the complete ''histories'^ (as the physicians 
say of their cases) of the making of a few representative 


M. Br^al. Essai de Semantique, 6® ^d. Paris, 1913. 

A. Darmesteter. De la creation actuelle de mots nouveaux, 

Paris, 1877. 
A. Darmesteter. La Vie des mots etudiee dans leurs signified' 

tions. Paris, 1887. 
A. Dauzat. La Langue frangaise d'aujourdhui. Paris, 1912. 
A. Dauzat. La Langue des sports. Revue de philologie frarv- 

gaise. 1909, p. 107. 
A. Dauzat. La Vie du langage. Paris, 1910. 
K.. Nyrop. Grammaire historique de la langue frangaise, 

4 vols. Copenhagen, 1899-1914. 

E. Deschanel. Les Deformations de la langue frangaise. 2® 6d. 

Paris, 1898. 
G. Gaillard. Sur quelques formations neologiques ricenies dans 
leurs rapports avec les modifications de la pensee et des moeurs. 
Revue de philologie frangaise, 1911, xxv, pp. 9 and 102. 

F. Gohin. Les Transformations de la langue frangaise pendant 

la r moitie du 18 S. Paris, 1903. 
Dictionnaire de VAcademie frangaise. 7® ^d. 2 vols. 1884. 
Dictionnaire general de la langue frangaise. A. Hatzfeld and 

A Darmesteter. 2 vols. Paris, no date. Abbreviated 

as D. G. 
E. Littr6. Dictionnaire de la langue frangaise, 4 vols., fol. 

Paris, 1873. Abbreviated as L. 
Nouveau Larousse illustre, dictionnaire encyclopSdique, public 

sous la direction de Claude A\ig6. Paris, no date. 

7 vols, and supplements, 1907 — date. Abbreviated as Lar. 



1825. T. Tredgold. A Practical Treatise on Rail-Roads and 

Carriages. Original edition published in England, 
but there is in Columbia University an edition 
published in New York. 

1826. T. Duverne. Translation of the above into French. 

This was reviewed at some length in the Revue 
encyclopedique, Paris, Oct. 1826, p. 46. 

Journal des savants. August. Article on the railroads. 

Archives des decouvertes et des inventions nouvelles 
(pendant Vannee 1825). Paris, p. 289, p. 311. 

M. le baron de Ferussac. Bulletin universel des scien- 
ces et de Vindustrie, partie technologique. Various 
reviews and notes, especially July, 1825, March, 
1826, May, 1826. 

1827. De Gerstner. Memoire sur les grandes routes et les 

chemins de fer. Prague, 1813. Translated by P. S. 
Girard. Paris, 1827. 

1829. J. de Baader. Sur VAvantage de suhstituer des chemins 

de fer a plusieurs canaux. 
Revue de Paris, VIII, p. 145. Article on ^'Le Canal 
maritime de Paris a Rouen." 

1830. L. Coste et A. A. Perdonnet. Memoire sur les chemins 

a ornieres. 
1834. Musee des families, p. 184. Article on the railroad, 

a general description of the line from Lyon to St. 

Etienne (the only line in France at this date) and 

of the English lines. 
1834-5-6. Magasin pittoresque, 18S4:, p. 28; 1835, p. 215; 

1836, p. 35. Three articles, the last describing the 

first railroad that came into Paris. 

1837. Magasin pittoresque. Article "Des machines k vapeur 


1838. Revue des Deux Mondes, XIII, 806, and XIV, 168. 

Two articles, the first on the railroads of Belgium. 
A collection by G. Schlemmer and H. Bonneau of 


Documents relatifs a Vhistoire parlementaire des 
chemins de fer, including an Expos^ (1838) by M. 
Legrand directeur des ponts et chauss^es; a report 
by M. Arago, published in the Moniteur universely 
26 avril 1838; and a discours of M. Berryer {Mon. 
univ. 9 mai, 1838). 

1842. Annuaire historique de Lesur. Article ''Catastrophe 
du chemin de fer de Versailles." 

1843-5. ^Illustration. May 6. ''Inauguration du chemin 
de fer de Paris a Orleans." Also p. 125. Also 
Aug. 26. Also Mar. 23, 1844. Also Aug. 2, 1845. 
Bulletin du comite central de statistique. Bruxelles. 

1846. U Illustration, June 6. 

1859. A. Perdonnet. Notions sur les chemins de fer. 

1856-1913. Portefeuille economique des machines de Voutil- 
lage et du materiel relatifs a la construction, aux 
chemins de fer, aux routes, a V agriculture, aux mines, 
d la navigation, a la telegraphic. 2® Edition. Dirig6 
par C. A. Oppermann. Paris, 1856-1913. Monthly, 
illustrated, grand format. 


1835. La Lanterne magique. Article "Omnibus monstre." 
1837. La Mosaique, p. 324, article "Une diligence a vapeur." 
1861-7. V Illustration. Oct. 26. Also 1863, passim. Also 

1866, passim. Also 1867, November. 
1868. C. A. Oppermann. Portefeuille economique des ma- 
chines de Voutillage et du materiel. Passim. 
L. Figuier. UAnnee scientifique et industrielle, p. 111. 
1874-6. Oppermann, passim. L^ Illustration, passim. Le 
Technologiste, passim. 

1876. Le Monde illustre, May 27. 

1877. Le Technologiste, Jan., p. 32. Also July 28. Also 

Aug. 11. Also Aug. 25. ^:^ 

1880. L. Figuier. Les Grandes Inventions modernes, p. 295. 
1890-4. L'lllustration, 1890, passim. Also Nov. 18, 1893. 

Also July 28 and Aug. 25, 1894. 


1895. Journal des Dehats, July 28. 

L' Illustration, Aug. 31. Also Sept. 19, 1896, and 
Oct. 31, 1896. 

1897. L. Lockert. Traite des vehicules automobiles sur routes. 
L. Perisse. Voitures automobiles de poids lourds. 

(In Soci^te des ing^nieurs civils. Memoires, 1897, 
vol. 2, pp. 636-70. 111.) 

1898. R. Soreau. La Vapeur, le petrole, Velectricite dans les 

P. Souvestre. UHistoire de Vautomobile. Gives quo- 
tations of documents, 1771-1875. 


1783. Description des experiences de la machine aerostatique 

de MM. Montgolfier^ par M. Faujas de St. Fond. 

Dissertation sur les globes aerostatiques, par M. de 

Parcieux. Paris. 
Rapport fait d V Academic des Sciences a Paris sur la 

machine aerostatique de MM. Montgolfier, quoted 

in Dupuis-Delcourt's Manuel. 
Journal des sgavans for September. Article on 


1784. Rapport fait a V Academic des Sciences sur la machine 

aerostatique inventee par MM. Montgolfier, signed by 

a committee. 
C. G. Kratzenstein. UArt de naviguer dans Vair. 

Copenhagen and Leipzig. 
Ch. Fred. Meerwein. UArt de voler a la maniere des 

oiseaux. Basle. 
1786. Tibere Cavallo. Histoire et pratique de VaerostatioUf 

traduit de V Anglais. 
1793. Le Dauphin enleve ou Vart de se diriger dans les airs, 

par le V*®. de . . . London. (Note. Cet ouvrage 

a ^t^ ^crit en 1783.) Not a serious scientific work. 
1802. F. Henin de Cuvillers. Memoire sur la direction des 

aerostats, lu a V Academic des Sciences. Paris. 


1820. E. G. R. Robertson. La Minerve, pamphlet, re- 
printed in Paris from an edition of 1802, Vienna 
1826. Revue encyclopedique, various numbers. 

1833. Magasin pittoresque, p. 163. Article ''Aerostation." 

1834. Dubochet. Recherches sur le vol des oiseauz et Vart 

La Lanterne magique. Article "Les Aerostats." 

1835. La Lanterne magique, p. 276. Article ''Navire aerien.'* 

1850. J. F. Dupuis-Delcourt. Nouveau Manuel d'aerostation 

ou guide a Vhistoire et pratique des ballons. (In the 
series Manuels-Roret.) Paris. 

1851. L. N. Bescherelle. Histoire des ballons {Ulnstruction 

popularisie) . 

1853. S. de Beauchamp. Souvenirs de la fin du XVI IP 
siecle, extraits des memoir es d'un officier des aeros- 
tiers aux armees, 1793-9. (But it is the vocabulary 
of 1853.) 

1857. A. J. Sanson. Preuve sur preuve d'une nautique 
aerienne, par A. J. Sanson, A^ronaugraphe. (Pam- 

1859. E. Farcot. La Navigation atmospherique. 

1863-4. U Illustration, various articles. 

1865. F. T. Nadar. Le Droit au vol. (First time for the 
word aviation.) 

1867-8. U Illustration, passim. 

1868. Le Magasin pittoresque, p. 407, and passim 1864-1875. 
Cordenons Pascal. Le Probleme de la navigation 

aerienne. Verona. 

1869. F. Marion. Les Ballons et les voyages aeriens. 
1869-75. U Illustration, passim. 

1875. Alphonse Brown. La Conquete de Vair. (First time 

for the word aeroplane.) 

1876. Le Technologiste, March 11. Article by A. Penaud. 
1876. Le Monde illustre, Dec. 2. Also Sept. 8, 1877. 

1878. Gaston Tissandier. Le Grand Ballon captif a vapeur. 
1878-81. U Illustration, passim. 

1899. W. de Fonvielle. Les Ballons-sondes et les ascensions 


1908. J. Armengaud. Le Probleme de Vaviatimi. La solution 
par V aeroplane. Conference faite au Conservatoire nor 
tional des arts et metiers. Paris, 1908. 

VAnnee scientifique et industrielle, passim. 

Archives des decouvertes et des inventions, passim. 

R. M. Pierce. Dictionary of Aviation. New York, 

A. F. Zahm. Aerial Navigation, a Popular Treatise 
on the Growth of Aircraft. New York, 1911. 


(a) Pre-revolutionary 

1776. Dictionnaire de V Academic frangaise. Nouvelle Edi- 
tion, 2 vols., Sq. Q., Lyons. Abbreviated as Acad. 

1778. L. Chambaud. Nouveau Dictionnaire frangois-anglois 
et anglois-frangois. 2 vols., Sq. Q., London. 

1787-8. L'abb6 F^raud. Dictionnaire critique de la langiie 
frangaise. 3 vols., Sq. Q., Marseilles. Abbreviated 
as Fer. 

(b) Of the Revolution Period 
1801. L. S. Mercier. Neologie ou vocahulaire des mots nou- 
veaux. Paris, an IX (1801). 

1801. Wm. Dupre. Lexicographica-neologica gallica. Lon- 

don, 1801. 

1802. J. Garner. Le Nouveau Dictionnaire universel fran- 

gois-anglois et anglois-frangois. 2 vols., Q., Rouen. 

1803. P. C. V. Boiste. Dictionnaire universel de la langue 

frangaise, avec le latin. 2® ed., Paris, an 11 (1803). 

Sq. Q. 

(c) Post-revolutionary 
1820. J. C. T. de Laveaux. Nouveau Dictionnaire de la 

langue frangaise. Paris, 2 vols., Sq. Q. Abbreviated 

as Lav. 
1835. Dictionnaire de l' Academic frangaise. 6® 4d., 2 vols. 


General and Historical Works 

E. Faguet. Discussions poUtiques. Paris, 1909. 

H. A. Taine, tr. by J. Durand. The French Revolution. New 

York, 1878. Abbreviated as Rev. 
H. Belloc. The French Revolution. New York, 1911. 
E. de Goncourt. Histoire de la societe frangaise pendant la 

revolution. Paris, 1895. 

E. F. Gattey. Elements du nouveau systeme metrique. Paris, 

La Grande EncyclopSdie, especially article " Calendrier." 
Encyclopaedia Britannica, especially article " France." 

Periodicals and Collections of Documents 

Le Moniteur universel. 1789-1868. Abbreviated as Mon. 

P. J. B. Buchez et P. C. Roux. Histoire parlementaire de la 
revolution frangaise ou journal des assemhlees nationales. 
1789-1815. Paris, 1834-8. 

A. Aulard. La Societe des Jacobins de Paris, recueil de docu- 
ments. Paris, 1889-95. Abbreviated as Aul. Soc. 

A. Aulard. Recueil des actes du comite de salut public, in 
Collection de documents inedits sur Vhistoire de France, 
vol. V. 

Mirabeau, peint par lui-meme. Paris, 1791. I-IV. Abbre- 
viated as Mir. 

La Revolution frangaise, revue d'histoire moderne et contempo- 
raine publiee par la Soci6t6 de Thistoire de la revolution. 
Paris, 1881-1915. Especially '^ Etude sur le calendrier 
r6publicain," vol. VII, p. 451 et seq. 

Linguistic and Philological Works 

T. Ranft. Der Einfluss der franzosischen Revolution auf den 
wortschatz der franzosischen sprache. Giessen, 1908. 
Abbreviated as R. 

F. Baldensperger. Review of the above work in Revue de 

philologie frangaise, 1909, pp. 48-9. 


Kurt Glaser. Die Mass- und Gewichtsbezeichnungen des fran- 
zosischen. Giessen, 1903. 

F. Brunot. Articles in Petit de JuUeville, Histoire de la 
langue et litterature frangaise, since revised and ex- 
panded in separate form under title Histoire de la langue 
frangaise des origines a 1900. Vols. 1-5. Paris, 1905-17. 

Louis-Philippe Geoffrin, Notre Vocabulaire parlementaire {con- 
ference faite a la seance publique annuelle de la Societe du 
Parler frangais, le 14 mars, 1918). Bulletin de la Societe 
du Parler frangais au Canada, vol. xvi, No. 10. Universite 
Laval, Quebec. History and discussion of the French 
parliamentary vocabulary in Canada from the year 1792. 


The author of this study was born December 7, 1884, in 
Salem, Mass., received his elementary education in the 
public schools of that city, and entered Brown University 
in September, 1901. In 1904 he was elected to member- 
ship in Phi Beta Kappa, and was graduated with the 
degree of A.B. in 1905. During the year 1905-6 he 
studied at Harvard with Prof. Sheldon, Prof. C. H. C. 
Wright and others, and received the degree of A.M. 
Since that time he has been engaged in secondary school 
teaching, except during the winter of 1907-8, which he 
spent in France. From 1911 to 1914 he was proprietor 
of the Grail School in Southport, Conn., and during that 
time was secretary of the Bridgeport group of the Al- 
liance Frangaise. In 1914 he resumed his studies in Ro- 
mance philology at Columbia University, working under 
Prof. H. A. Todd, Prof. L. A. Loiseaux, Prof. Adolphe 
Cohn, Prof. Brander Matthews and Prof. G. Lanson, 
receiving the degree of Ph.D. in June, 1918. 



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